Solar system science with the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope

Bryan J. Holler, Stefanie N. Milam, James M. Bauer, Charles Alcock, Michele T. Bannister, Gordon L. Bjoraker, Dennis Bodewits, Amanda S. Bosh, Marc W. Buie, Tony L. Farnham, Nader Haghighipour, Paul S. Hardersen, Alan W. Harris, Christopher M. Hirata, Henry H. Hsieh, Michael S.P. Kelley, Matthew M. Knight, Emily A. Kramer, Andrea Longobardo, Conor A. NixonErnesto Palomba, Silvia Protopapa, Lynnae C. Quick, Darin Ragozzine, Vishnu Reddy, Jason D. Rhodes, Andy S. Rivkin, Gal Sarid, Amanda A. Sickafoose, Amy A. Simon, Cristina A. Thomas, David E. Trilling, Robert A. West

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We present a community-led assessment of the solar system investigations achievable with NASA's next-generation space telescope, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). WFIRST will provide imaging, spectroscopic, and coronagraphic capabilities from 0.43 to 2.0 μ m and will be a potential contemporary and eventual successor to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Surveys of irregular satellites and minor bodies are where WFIRST will excel with its 0.28 deg2 field-of-view Wide Field Instrument. Potential groundbreaking discoveries from WFIRST could include detection of the first minor bodies orbiting in the inner Oort Cloud, identification of additional Earth Trojan asteroids, and the discovery and characterization of asteroid binary systems similar to Ida/Dactyl. Additional investigations into asteroids, giant planet satellites, Trojan asteroids, Centaurs, Kuiper belt objects, and comets are presented. Previous use of astrophysics assets for solar system science and synergies between WFIRST, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, JWST, and the proposed Near-Earth Object Camera mission is discussed. We also present the case for implementation of moving target tracking, a feature that will benefit from the heritage of JWST and enable a broader range of solar system observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034003
JournalJournal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope
  • infrared imaging
  • infrared space observatory
  • infrared spectroscopy
  • planets
  • telescopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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