Preliminary versions of the ROC were released by the SSC following the GO1 call. The ROC for fixed (i.e.boring) targets is here, and the exciting targets are here. NOTE that these versions of the ROC are ONLY for the GO1 approved targets, and DO NOT include the GTO and Legacy reserved targets - see the usual ROC for those.
This picture shows how the sky will look to the MIPS 32x32 array. These far infrared images will detect sources about 100 times fainter than any far infrared surveys have done before -- that is, prior to SIRTF, the best image we would have of this simulated field would be nearly empty!. Check here for comparison with IRAS (Infrared Astronomical Satellite), ISO (Infrared Space Observatory), and SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) images.
Such images will show us infrared-bright galaxies to the distant reaches of the known Universe, maybe even farther than any galaxies we have discovered so far. Whenever a galaxy first forms, it has many massive, hot stars. However, these stars live for only a few million years, after which they begin to spew heavy elements out into space -- this spewing reaches a crescendo when the stars explode as supernovae. These heavy elements form dust grains, which in turn are heated by the remaining stars. The dust warms up to only about 60K (about the temperature of liquid air, or Pluto) and hence glows in the far infrared, where MIPS will detect it in images like the one above. In this manner, the far infrared images can lead us back to the moment galaxies first formed and when the heavy elements were produced.
Our plans in this area are discussed under surveys, active galaxy nuclei, and low metallicity galaxies.
Finding galaxies back when they first formed heavy elements and dust is only one of the projects MIPS could be used for. Another example is to search nearby stars for debris systems that might signal the presence of planets. IRAS, which surveyed the sky in 1983/84, started this field with the discovery of some very dramatic systems such as beta Pictoris, and Vega. We can extend this type of work by measuring the nearest solar-like stars down to the level that corresponds to the wimpy emission we would expect from the solar system itself. In fact, we (Backman, Werner, Rieke, and van Cleve, 1997. ASP Conf., 122, 49) have shown that MIPS, looking back from any close star, could detect the finely divided material we expect lies out in the Kuiper Belt. The KB is the system of small, faint, and very cold objects recently discovered in the solar system outside the orbits of Neptune and Pluto.
These plans are discussed under debris disks, young stars, and solar system..
However, the real breakthroughs are up to the astronomical community. MIPS will detect far infrared sources down to 100 times fainter than we know about now. It will do so with the first areal arrays, allowing 100 times greater efficiency in mapping than any previous experiment (all of which had to make do with small numbers of individual detectors). 80% of the SIRTF time will be used by the general astronomical community, and with such an advance in capability we expect that discoveries will be made well beyond our currently imagined ones.
As great as SIRTF is going to be, this paper shows how we might do even better!