First Look Survey History
A Community Workshop, convened by B.T. Soifer, Director of the Spitzer Science Center (SSC), met on September 15 and 16, 1999 on the Caltech Campus in Pasadena, CA. The co-Chairs of the Workshop were Jim Condon (NRAO-Charlottesville) and Phil Myers (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA). The purpose of the workshop was to formulate a scientific definition of the Spitzer First Look Survey (FLS), in terms of observational goals and priorities.
In early 1999, SSC Director Tom Soifer (Caltech) and SIRTF Project Scientist Mike Werner (JPL) chartered an ad hoc advisory committee, chaired by Robert E. Williams (Space Telescope Science Institute). The committee met on April 29-30, 1999 in Pasadena, with the directive to consider the most appropriate response(s) of SIRTF to the loss of WIRE.
The specific charge to the committee was to "evaluate the impact of the loss of the core WIRE high-galactic latitude survey on SIRTF science programs, and to advise whether and how SIRTF and the SSC should undertake actions to redress this situation so as to maximize the scientific return from SIRTF."
The Williams Committee Final Report (PDF, 60 KB) is available. Here we summarize the conclusions of the Committee:
- The WIRE science program was very important, and would have made an essential contribution to characterization of the IR sky at 12 and 25 microns. Its sources would likely have been important targets for many of the programs carried out by SIRTF.
- Although SIRTF cannot duplicate the WIRE observing program, it does have imaging capabilities at wavelengths which would produce a representative sample of previously undetected sources in a modest amount of observing time.
- The SIRTF Legacy Science Program is likely to yield outstanding science, provide an early illustration of SIRTF's capabilities to address a wide range of science, and provide early public access to a database that will significantly help the SIRTF General Observers. These peer-reviewed projects should remain the pillars of the early SIRTF scientific program.
- A smaller and complementary survey to provide a representative view of the mid-infrared sky at WIRE-level sensitivities will provide a critical augmentation of IR sources to serve as targets for detailed studies with SIRTF. Given the predicted ~5-year lifetime of SIRTF, it is essential that this sample be acquired as soon as possible in order to permit the broader community to optimize planning for early SIRTF observations.
The primary recommendation of the Williams Committee was that "a special survey of ~100 hours duration be carried out by SIRTF as its first science observing program in order to characterize the mid-infrared sky to levels two orders of magnitude deeper than presently known."