Spaceborne Astronomy


SPIRE was one of three instruments on-board the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, which was launched on May 14, 2009 and became non-functional on April 29, 2013, exceeding its targeted life-span of 3.5 years. The Herschel satellite was turned off on June 17, 2013 followed by a 3-year post-operational phase. The SPIRE instrument provided medium to high resolution imaging spectroscopy and photometry in the far infrared and submillimeter range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The Canadian contribution to SPIRE consisted of a test facility Fourier Transform Spectrometer to test instrument models, data analysis software, as well as personnel for the instrument control, test, and science teams. This portion of the mission was undertaken with the financial support of the Canadian Space Agency. The principal investigator for SPIRE was Prof. Matt Griffin from the Cardiff University, Wales, UK. This instrument was built by an international consortium with contributors from eight countries, including Canada. The integration facility for SPIRE was at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxon, UK and Prof. Bruce Swinyard was the instrument scientist leading the team responsible to manufacture SPIRE. SPIRE is a back-to-back camera and imaging spectrometer for the far-infrared and submillimeter range of the electromagnetic spectrum (200 – 670μm).

Data Processing and Science Analysis Software Centres

Canada became involved in the Herschel/SPIRE project in late 2002. In 2005, the CSA extended its technical contribution to SPIRE by committing funding to host the Data Processing and Science Analysis Software (DAPSAS) Centre for the SPIRE imaging FTS. Two equivalent DAPSAS centres existed for the SPIRE camera at Imperial College, London, UK and the Centre d’Etudes Atomiques – Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France. Blue Sky Spectroscopy proudly hosted this development centre for scientific software. The DAPSAS centres developed, maintained, and optimized the data processing software for the astronomy community to process and analyze the data from the SPIRE instrument. As a centre of expertise we provided the in-depth and instrument-specific knowledge required to accurately process SPIRE data. Our software was fully integrated in the Herschel Common Software System and maintained robustness, ease of use, time and memory efficiency, and scientific integrity of the resulting data products. We also developed and tested the software required for the instrument calibration and quality control of the scientific data. The DAPSAS centres were primary resource pools to aid astronomers with the reduction of their scientific data throughout the instrument lifetime. Internal Documentation (password protected)