SPIRou : a nIR high-precision-RV échelle spectropolarimeter for CFHT
SPIRou is a nIR spectropolarimeter proposed as a next-generation instrument for CFHT. Technically speaking, SPIRou is essentially a nIR version of ESPaDOnS / NARVAL with greatly improved RV stability (1m/s level), or a nIR version of HARPS with spectropolarimetric capabilities; it consists of a high-resolution cryogenic échelle spectrograph fiber-fed from a Cassegrain achromatic polarimeter. It yields nearly complete spectral coverage in the YJHK bands (ie from 0.98 to 2.35µm) at a spectral resolution of ~75,000.
The two main science goals of SPIRou are (i) the detection and characterization of Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of low-mass stars and (ii) the study of star/planet formation in the presence of magnetic fields. Besides these two main forefront goals, SPIRou can tackle many more science topics, from exoplanet atmospheres to weather patterns on brown dwarfs, or from dynamo processes in low-mass stars to solar-system planetary atmospheres. For more information, one can read the updated science case of SPIRou (2013 Sep 06).
SPIRou has successfully passed the PDR (on 2012 Oct 15-18) and is working its way towards FDR (planned for early 2014). Should CFHT select it as the next-generation instrument in the framework of the current Announcement of Opportunity for new CFHT instruments (on 2013 Oct 17), SPIRou will enter the construction phase right after FDR for a first light currently scheduled for early 2017 - perfectly timely with complementary space missions such as TESS, CHEOPS and JWST.
The SPIRou documentation is not freely accessible, but more information is potentially available upon a motivated request to the PI (JF Donati).
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