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SPICA: A Cryogenic Infrared Telescope for ESA's Next Medium-Class Science Mission (M5)

Ismael PĂ©rez Fournon

June 12th, 2018


In 2016, an international consortium led by SRON (Netherlands) in close collaboration with Japan (JAXA)
and with important Spanish participation (CAB, INTA and IAC/ULL) submitted the SPICA (SPace Infrared Telescope
for Cosmology and Astrophysics) proposal to ESA as part of the fifth call for medium-class missions (M5) in the
Cosmic Vision program. A total of 25 proposals competed for the M5 budget of 550 million euro. Together with two
other missions, THESEUS and EnVision, SPICA is now selected for the final round, in which three parallel
detailed studies will determine the best proposal. ESA is expected to select in 2021 its M5 mission, that
should be launched around 2030. SPICA has been designed to be extremely sensitive to infrared radiation,
much more than previous space infrared missions operating in the mid- and far-IR. In this talk we will review the
current status of SPICA and its instruments and describe the main science goals: the processes that regulate
the formation and evolution of galaxies and the formation of stars and planetary systems. In particular, we will discuss
how mid- to far-IR spectroscopic observations with SPICA could be exploited to understand key aspects in the chemical
evolution of galaxies, such as the assembly of nearby galaxies based on the spatial distribution of heavy element abundances,
the global content of metals in galaxies reaching the knee of the luminosity function up to z ∼ 3, and the dust composition
of galaxies at high-z. Possible synergies with facilities available in the late 2020s will be also discussed."