The SPICA mission

SPICA satellite configuration. Image credit JAXA/SPICA Team

The observatory will have a 2.5-meter class Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, cooled to a temperature below 8 K. The mission is to operate nominally for 3 years, with a goal of 5 years. The satellite configuration is based on the results of the recent ESA Next Generation Cryogenic Infra-Red telescope study and subsequent further analysis by JAXA/ISAS. The telescope is mounted on the service module with its axis perpendicular to the satellite axis. The payload will be cooled using mechanical coolers in combination with V-groove radiators as was done for the PLANCK satellite. Solar panels to provide electrical power are mounted on the bottom of the service module, which is always directed to the Sun.

The top figure shows the SPICA satellite configuration. The SPICA Pay Load Module (PLM) is connected to the Cooler Module (CM) and Service Module (SVM) through a truss assembly. The CM accommodates the mechanical cryocooler units including their electronics and the warm electronics of the science instruments.  

Instrument positioning on the telescope backside.

The middle figure shows how the instruments are positioned on the  the telescope backside .

The bottom figure shows the visibility assuming that observations are limited to a 360˚ annulus perpendicular to the sun direction with a width of about 20˚ on the sky. Popular extragalactic survey fields (red circles), HST Frontier Fields (yellow circle) and Galactic star forming regions (blue circles) are also shown. 

Mission specifications

Sky visibility.
  • ESA-led mission with large JAXA contribution
  • “Planck configuration”
  • Entire sky visible over a 6 month period
  • Cryogenically cooled 2.5 meter telescope, <8K
  • 12-230μm spectroscopy
  • 110, 220, 350μm imaging polarimetry.
  • standard Herschel/Panck SVM
  • Japanese H3 launcher, L2 halo orbit
  • 3 year lifetime (goal 5 years)


SPICA will host 3 instruments: