The Lyman mission will undertake the first sensitive high resolution spectroscopic observations in the largely unexplored 912-1216Å region. This astrophysically critical wavelength interval is exceedingly rich in diagnostic spectral lines such as the Lyman series of atomic hydrogen and deuterium, the Lyman and Werner bands of molecular hydrogen and deuterium, and the resonance lines of numerous important species including CIII, NI-III and OVI. Lyman will have a major impact in all areas of modern astrophysics, with the most fundamental contribution being the determination of light element abundances in the local interstellar medium and in the intergalactic medium at low redshift. The mapping of hot gas (T ∼ 3 × 105K) and molecular hydrogen and HD in the disk and halo of our galaxy represent additional major objectives for which Lyman is uniquely qualified.
The Lyman payload will comprise a grazing incidence telescope and three spectroscopic instruments: the prime spectrograph operating between 912-1250Å with a resolution of λ/ Δλ ∼ 30,000, a far ultraviolet spectrograph (1200-2000Å;λ/ Δλ ∼ 10,000), and an extreme ultraviolet spectrograph (100-900Å; λ /Δλ ∼ 300). Observations will be conducted from a highly efficient 48 hour elliptical orbit which will allow long un-interrupted exposures and real time operations. It is anticipated that Lyman will be launched by Ariane in 1996, and will have an operational lifetime of at least 5 years. Data reception and spacecraft control will be undertaken from ground stations in Spain and in Australia.
Lyman is currently being studied at Phase-A level by Australia in close coordination with the European Space Agency. The scientific involvement is the responsibility of the Lyman Science Working Group, composed of members representing the various astronomical institutions in Australia. Funding to support the technical and scientific aspects of the mission is provided via the Australian Space Board and the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce in recognition of the major opportunity that Lyman presents to the Australian aerospace industry.