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The Invisible made Visible: Far-Infrared Spectroscopy in Support of Astrochemistry (FISSA)
Start date: Aug 1, 2012, End date: Jul 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The interstellar medium (ISM) is filled with highly diluted matter. Chemical processes in the ISM are largely obscured by interstellar dust, prohibiting a detailed view of the chemical evolution of star forming regions. Far-infrared (terahertz; THz) observations of interstellar gas, ice and dust have the potential to penetrate deeply into molecular clouds and reveal the full history of star and planet formation. Accordingly, Herschel Space Telescope, SOFIA and ALMA, present astronomical flagship facilities, promise to open a new era in the THz astronomy. To fully realize this promise it is essential to achieve quantitative experimental THz studies of interstellar dust, ice, and gas. The goal of the outgoing part of this project is to produce laboratory THz spectra of interstellar ice analogues in support of Herschel Space Telescope, SOFIA, ALMA and future facilities. This project will provide the scientific community with an extensive terahertz ice-database, which will allow quantitative studies of the ISM, the possible detection of pre-biotic species and will, therefore, guide future astronomical observations. This part of the project will be carried out within the laboratory group of Prof. Blake in Caltech. The return project will be performed at the FELIX facility (Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands) within Dr. Cuppen (Theoretical Chemistry) and Prof. van der Zande (Molecular and Biophysics) groups and aims at studying in laboratory the molecular mobility in icy layers at the level of individual particles to reveal further details of chemical processes in the solid state in the ISM. Results will be implemented in Molecular Dynamics and Monte Carlo models of Dr. Cuppen, who simulates ice evolution for astronomical relevant timescales, pushing experimental results beyond typical laboratory timescales. This project will contribute to tackle fundamental questions in astrochemistry, such as on the origin and fate of the molecular complexity in the Universe."
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