NASA has selected four proposals for astrophysics missions studying stars, galaxies and some of the most violent explosions for further study.
Selected missions are competing for funding as part of NASA’s Explorers program and were announced by the agency on Thursday, Aug. 18. The Explorers Program focuses on small to medium-sized missions that can have a significant scientific impact but are also buildable and constructable. Compared to large, expensive missions, launch times are much shorter.
Two astrophysics midsize missions and two opportunistic missions will now enter the mission concept study phase. NASA will evaluate the concepts before selecting a mission of opportunity and a mid-size explorer in 2024. The selected pair of missions will then prepare for launches in 2027 and 2028.
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Two Medium Explorer teams will each receive $3 million for a nine-month mission concept study. these are:
— Ultraviolet Explorer (UVEX).The mission will survey the entire sky in ultraviolet light to provide new insights galaxy evolution and life cycle Star. Spacecraft will seek light captured from blast Gravitational waves caused by the merger Neutron star, as well as the study of massive stars and stellar explosions. The principal investigator is Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.
— Survey and Time-Domain Astrophysical Research Explorer (STAR-X).The spacecraft will use sensitive wide-field X-ray and ultraviolet telescopes for research supernova explosion and active galaxies. Deep X-ray surveys will map hot gas trapped in distant galaxy clusters. Combined with infrared observations from NASA’s upcoming Rome Space Telescope, these observations will track how massive galaxy clusters formed in the history of the universe. The principal investigator is William Zhang of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Two Opportunity Mission teams will each receive $750,000 to conduct their own nine-month concept study. these are:
— Lunar Explosion Energetics All-sky Monitor (MoonBEAM).The spacecraft will operate in a so-called halo orbit Earth and moonwhich means it can see almost the entire sky at any time, observing high-energy bursts gamma rays from a distant cosmic explosion. MoonBEAM would then quickly alert other telescopes so they could study the source. The principal investigator is Chiumun Michelle Hui of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
— Large Area Explosion Polarimeter (LEAP). LEAP will be installed on the International Space Station to study gamma-ray bursts produced by high-energy jets emitted during black hole formation or mergers of objects such as neutron stars following the explosive death of massive stars, and black hole. The principal investigator is Mark McConnell of the University of New Hampshire, Durham.
The cost cap for medium exploration missions is $300 million each, excluding launch costs. NASA missions of opportunity have a cost cap of $80 million each.
“NASA’s Explorer Program has a proud tradition of supporting innovative approaches to exceptional science, and these options share that commitment,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. statement (opens in new tab).
“From studying the evolution of galaxies to explosive high-energy events, these proposals are inspiring in both the scope and creativity of exploring the unknown in our universe.”
Explorers is NASA’s longest-running program designed to provide regular opportunities to launch space science missions.The first task goes back to explorer 1 Discovered in 1958 Van Allen Radiation belts around the Earth. More than 70 U.S. and cooperative international science spaces Task has become part of the program.
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