The Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) is a near infrared multi-object dispersive spectrograph capable of simultaneously observing more than 100 sources over a field-of-view (FOV) larger than 3' x 3'. The NIRSpec will be the first spectrograph in space that has this capability. Targets in the Field of View are normally selected by opening groups of shutters in a micro-shutter array (MSA) to form multiple apertures. The microshutters are arranged in a waffle-like grid that contains more than 62000 shutters with each cell measuring 100 µm x 200 µm. Sweeping a magnet across the surface of the MSA opens all operable shutters. Individual shutters may then be addressed and closed electronically. NIRSpec is also capable of Fixed-slit and Integral-field spectroscopy and provides medium-resolution spectroscopy over a wavelength range of 1 - 5 µm and lower-resolution spectroscopy from 0.6 - 5 µm.
NIRSpec will address all of the four main JWST science themes, and much more. It will enable large spectroscopic surveys of faint galaxies at high redshift, obtain sensitive spectra of transiting exoplanets and image line emission from protoplanetary disks and protostars. NIRSpec is being built for the European Space Agency (ESA) by the Astrium consortium with Dr. Pierre Ferruit guiding its development as the ESA JWST Project Scientist. Peter Jakobsen, the NIRSpec Instrument PI, retired in December 2011.
December 2013 and January 2014
The STScI NIRSpec team held demonstration sessions at STScI and the AAS of our new prototype software for planning complex Multi-Object Spectroscopy observations with the NIRSpec Micro-Shutter Arrays.
The ESA NIRSpec Science Team has delivered the first Calibration Data Products package which includes reference files for all steps in the ramps-to-slopes pipeline developed at STScI. Work is now continuing on the NIRSpec spectroscopic pipeline to be delivered in Fall 2014.
The JWST NIRSpec instrument was shipped to the U.S. from the ESA Astrium test facility in Germany. It arrived at Baltimore's BWI airport on Sept. 20, 2013 and was transferred to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.