PISCES is ExEP’s New Sign
by Michael McElwain, Nancy Grace Roman Fellow, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

A novel optical integral field spectrograph (IFS) called the Prototype Imaging Spectrograph for Coronagraphic Exoplanet Studies (PISCES) is being built for use with the NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program’s High-Contrast Imaging Testbed (HCIT) facility at JPL. PISCES enables spectral characterization of exoplanet atmospheres and can enhance achieved image contrast by providing multi-wavelength measurements of the target star’s chromatic point spread function; it will be the first IFS to demonstrate the challenging performance requirements of a mission for direct imaging of Earth-like exoplanets.
Expanding high contrast over a broad bandpass is a core objective of the Exoplanet Exploration Program’s Technology Plan and the PISCES development is directly relevant to both the Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets (AFTA) mission and the probe-scale mission concepts being studied by the Science and Technology Definition Teams.

Michael McElwain is PI of the PISCES instrument, which recently received funding through the Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship Program. This instrument will be built at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and subsequently delivered as a facility-class instrument to the HCIT in 2015. The small PISCES team is composed of scientists and engineers from Goddard, Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and JPL. A PISCES poster and conference proceeding will be contributed to the 2013 SPIE meeting this August.