The WFIRST Wide Field Instrument: Overview of Capabilities and Science Drivers
The Wide Field Instrument is the revolutionary camera that will enable WFIRST to perform like “a hundred Hubbles”, and thereby to perform infrared sky surveys that will help us understand dark energy, conduct a powerful new exoplanet census, and pursue a wide range of other science goals from the outer solar system to Cosmic Dawn. At its heart is a 300 megapixel detector array covering 0.28 square degrees on sky, coupled with 7 imaging filters and 2 slitless dispersers with wavelength coverage from 0.48 to 2.0 microns. WFI is being built to support both efficient operations and high precision data gathering. Other unique WFI capabilities include implementation of on-chip guide star astrometry to support observatory guiding, and a precision lamp system to support on-board calibration in flight. In this talk, I will provide a brief overview of the Wide Field Instrument, summarize its current status, and explain how its design flows from and supports the mission’s key astrophysics goals.