Observations in the near- and far-infrared allow us to probe through cosmic clouds of gas and dust to uncover processes that are obscured at other wavelengths such as young stars embedded in dust clouds, thermal emission from the interstellar medium, and the birth of galaxies. However, cosmic infrared light is obstructed by Earth's atmosphere. As a result, infrared astrophysical instrumentation is often designed for use in space. As specific examples of technologies addressing the kind of science that can be performed at these wavelengths, I will discuss my contributions to two applications of infrared instrumentation: a Fourier transform spectrometer (FTS) and the Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment-2 (CIBER-2). I have developed the FTS for use as a calibration device to source far-infrared light with well-understood spectral characteristics. The motivation for such a device stems from the development of a novel spectrometer-on-a-chip design for far-infrared wavelengths. To test the prototype THz on-chip spectrometer, I have designed and am now fabricating the FTS, with an expected completion date of late 2022. In this thesis, I will discuss the motivation, optical configuration, thermal and mechanical design processes, and status of the FTS. This thesis also presents my contributions to CIBER-2, a sounding rocket experiment designed to distinguish the Epoch of Reionization from intra-halo light by characterizing fluctuations in the Extragalactic Background Light. This instrument, which collects images in both the near-infrared and the optical, completed a successful first flight from White Sands Missile Range on June 7th, 2021. I will discuss the performance of the instrument in its first flight as well as the improvements I have implemented that will lead to a successful second flight scheduled for early 2023.
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)
Tramm, Serena M., "Design and Fabrication of Astrophysical Instrumentation for Distinguishing Infrared Sources" (2022). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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