Don Savage Headquarters, Washington, DC March 10, 1995 (Phone: 202/358-1547) Diane Farrar Ames Research Center

, Mountain View, CA (Phone: 415/604-9000) RELEASE: 95-24 U.S. INSTRUMENTS TO FLY ABOARD JAPANESE ASTRONOMY MISSION Several NASA-built components of the Infrared Telescope in Space (IRTS), the first Japanese orbiting telescope dedicated to infrared astronomy, will be launched aboard Japan's Space Flyer Unit (SFU) on March 15 from Japan. The SFU platform will be launched into low-Earth orbit from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan aboard NASDA's HII rocket and retrieved by the Space Shuttle later this year. After several days of systems checks, SFU will be boosted by onboard rockets to a 500 km (311 mile) circular orbit. The SFU was developed jointly by Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan, and Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). The IRTS will survey about ten percent of the celestial sky during its three-week mission. Its lifetime is limited by the amount of onboard refrigerant necessary to cool the telescope. During operations, IRTS will be cooled to a temperature of -455 degrees Fahrenheit to provide highsensitivity observations of thermal infrared radiation. Once the liquid helium coolant is depleted, IRTS will stop

operating and other experiments aboard SFU will be conducted. IRTS consists of a 15-cm diameter telescope and four scientific instruments designed and built to study infrared radiation at wavelengths between approximately 1-1000 microns (one-millionth of a meter). The orbiting observatory will provide measurements of the interstellar matter -- the dust and gas -- in the disk of our galaxy and the interplanetary dust within our solar system. It also will yield new information about cool stars and cosmology, the study of the large-scale structure and evolution of the Universe. -more-

-2U.S. scientists, in collaboration with Japanese colleagues, built two of the four IRTS instruments. Dr. Thomas Roellig, an astrophysicist at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, is co-Principal Investigator for the Mid-Infrared Spectrometer (MIRS). The MIRS instrument, developed in collaboration with Dr. Takashi Onaka of the University of Tokyo, will provide spectroscopic measurements at wavelengths between about 5 and 12 microns -- radiation that is about ten times longer than visible light. MIRS will study molecular gas in the Milky Way and infrared emission from the dust within our solar system. Historically, many astronomical discoveries have been made when instrument sensitivities were increased by a factor of ten or more. The two-pound MIRS instrument will provide measurements that are "100-1000 times more sensitive than anything that has been measured in this wavelength before," said Roellig. "I expect that the most exciting discoveries will be unexpected ones," he said. Dr. Andrew Lange, now at the California Institute of Technology, built the Far-Infrared Photometer (FIRP) instrument while at the University of California, Berkeley. Built in collaboration with colleagues at Nagoya University, FIRP will perform imaging at four far-infrared and

submillimeter bands between 150 and 700 microns. FIRP will study interstellar dust, variations in cosmic background radiation, and extragalactic submillimeter radiation. FIRP will provide important new information about cosmology and will follow-up earlier discoveries made by the IRAS and COBE satellites. Ground tracking support for the IRTS mission will be provided by the Kagoshima Space Center, Japan, and NASA's Deep Space Network, with its antennas at Goldstone (California), Canberra (Australia), and Madrid (Spain). Science operations will be conducted at Sagamihara Operations Center, Japan. After IRTS investigators process and calibrate the science data, it will be made available to the general astronomical communities in Japan and the U.S. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, will serve as the U.S. archive site for the data. Funding for the two U.S. instruments was provided by the Astrophysics Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. The SFU is scheduled to be captured in-orbit by the Shuttle Endeavour during mission STS-72, scheduled for December 1995, whose crew is expected to include a Japanese mission specialist astronaut, Koichi Wakata. -endNASA press releases and other information are available automatically by sending an Internet electronic mail message to In the body of the message (not the subject line) users should type the words "subscribe pressrelease" (no quotes). The system will reply with a confirmation via E-mail of each subscription. A second automatic message will include additional information on the service. Questions should be directed to (202) 358-4043.