This article is outdated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(June 2015)
The Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA), initially called HII/L2 after the launch vehicle and orbit, is a proposed infraredspace telescope, successor of the successful AKARIspacecraft.
It is intended to use a halo orbit around the L2 point; it is intended to use mechanical cryocoolers rather than liquid helium, allowing the mirror to be cooled to 7000450000000000000♠4.5 K (versus the 7001800000000000000♠80 K or so of a mirror cooled only by radiation like Herschel's) which provides substantially greater sensitivity in the 10–100 μm infrared band (IR band); the telescope is intended to observe in longer wavelength infrared than the James Webb Space Telescope.
The mission has been planned for many years; the launch date as of 2005 was "early 2010s", though as of 2009 a great deal of hardware has been designed but very little built, the SPICA website indicates that in summer 2009 the mission is still at the conference stage, and the 2009 paper says 'within ten years'. An internal review at ESA at the end of 2009 suggested that the technology readiness for the mission was not adequate. In 2010, it was expected to be launched in 2018.
As of 2014[update], it is expected to be launched in 2025.
Constraints on the emission of ground state Н2 emission from the first (population III) generation of stars
The detection of biomarkers in the mid-infrared spectra of exo-planets and/or the primordial material in protoplanetary disks
The detection of Н2 haloes around galaxies in the local Universe
With sufficient technical development of coronagraphic techniques: the imaging of any planets in thehabitable zone in the nearest few stars
The detection of the far infrared transitions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the interstellar medium. The very large molecules thought to comprise the PAHs, and which give rise to the characteristic features in the near-infrared, have vibrational transitions in the far-infrared which are widespread and extremely weak
The direct detection of dust formation in super novae in external galaxies and the determination of the origin of the large amounts of dust in high redshift galaxies