Author Topic: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)  (Read 22195 times)

Offline Star One

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Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« on: 01/06/2016 04:33 PM »
And so it officially begins as a project.

Quote
NASA’s next flagship astronomy mission after the James Webb Space Telescope will become a formal project in February thanks to increased funding and direction from Congress, even as the agency looks to make cuts elsewhere in its astrophysics program.

Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, told astronomers attending the 227th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society here Jan. 4 that the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will enter its “formulation phase,” the beginning of NASA’s project management process, in February after the proposed space telescope passed a mission concept review in December.

That decision also comes after the passage of the fiscal year 2016 omnibus spending bill in December that provided $90 million for WFIRST, far above NASA’s request of $14 million. The report accompanying the bill adopted language approved by Senate appropriators in June directing NASA to move WFIRST into the formulation phase by early 2016.

Quote
The baseline plan for the mission calls for the use of one of the 2.4-meter mirrors provided to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office in 2012. The spacecraft will operate at the Earth-sun L-2 Lagrange point for a prime mission of at least six years.

http://spacenews.com/nasas-next-major-space-telescope-project-officially-starts-in-february/

By the way is this slated for Falcon Heavy, Delta Heavy or possibly Vulcan?
« Last Edit: 01/06/2016 05:07 PM by Star One »

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #1 on: 01/06/2016 08:41 PM »
The baseline mission in SDT final report from Feb 2015 (available somewhere on the revamped WFIRST website http://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/) has Delta IV Heavy as the launch vehicle, but that's probably not definite yet. In fact, the baseline mission had a 28.5 degree geosynchronous orbit but if spacenews.com reporting is accurate, this has changed to L2. The SDT report does mention that a more detailed assessment of the orbit trade would be done in 2015 and that Delta IV Heavy enables both geosynchronous and L2 missions with healthy margins.

Offline Star One

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Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #2 on: 01/06/2016 09:50 PM »
The baseline mission in SDT final report from Feb 2015 (available somewhere on the revamped WFIRST website http://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/) has Delta IV Heavy as the launch vehicle, but that's probably not definite yet. In fact, the baseline mission had a 28.5 degree geosynchronous orbit but if spacenews.com reporting is accurate, this has changed to L2. The SDT report does mention that a more detailed assessment of the orbit trade would be done in 2015 and that Delta IV Heavy enables both geosynchronous and L2 missions with healthy margins.

Would the Delta IV Heavy still be in active production by launch time?
« Last Edit: 01/06/2016 09:50 PM by Star One »

Offline arachnitect

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #3 on: 01/07/2016 01:43 AM »
The baseline mission in SDT final report from Feb 2015 (available somewhere on the revamped WFIRST website http://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/) has Delta IV Heavy as the launch vehicle, but that's probably not definite yet. In fact, the baseline mission had a 28.5 degree geosynchronous orbit but if spacenews.com reporting is accurate, this has changed to L2. The SDT report does mention that a more detailed assessment of the orbit trade would be done in 2015 and that Delta IV Heavy enables both geosynchronous and L2 missions with healthy margins.

Would the Delta IV Heavy still be in active production by launch time?

ULA say they will support DIV-H until Vulcan-ACES is operational (around 2024).

Offline bolun

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #4 on: 02/10/2016 11:29 AM »
ANNOUNCEMENT OF OPPORTUNITY FOR EUROPEAN SCIENTISTS TO JOIN THE NASA WFIRST FORMULATION SCIENCE WORKING GROUP

9 February 2016

The purpose of this Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is to solicit the participation of scientists affiliated with institutes located in the ESA Member States in the NASA WFIRST Formulation Science Working Group (FSWG).

http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/wfirst

Offline catdlr

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #5 on: 02/18/2016 09:50 PM »
WFIRST Spacecraft Animation

Published on Feb 18, 2016
WFIRST, shown here in an artist's rendering, will carry a Wide Field Instrument to provide astronomers with Hubble-quality images covering large swaths of the sky, enabling several studies of cosmic evolution. Its Coronagraph Instrument will directly image exoplanets similar to those in our own solar system and make detailed measurements of the chemical makeup of their atmospheres.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab

Tony De La Rosa

Offline catdlr

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #6 on: 02/18/2016 09:50 PM »
WFIRST: The Best of Both Worlds

Published on Feb 18, 2016
NASA officially is beginning work on an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe -- the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

Tony De La Rosa

Offline matthewkantar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #7 on: 02/18/2016 10:58 PM »
Interesting to hear the mirrors from the NRO are deformable, I have been wondering about that for some time.

Matthew


Offline b0objunior

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #8 on: 02/19/2016 01:54 AM »
Interesting to hear the mirrors from the NRO are deformable, I have been wondering about that for some time.

Matthew

That's because adaptive optics were researched, in it's beginning, for the army.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #9 on: 02/19/2016 03:24 PM »
Have they made a final decision that they will use the NRO mirror for WFIRST? I heard a lot of grumbling that it's not really good for that mission (not qualified for very cold temperatures, for instance) and that may drive up the cost substantially.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #10 on: 02/19/2016 03:41 PM »
Speaking of the cold, it doesn't look like there's a sun-shade on it. Active cooling? Or just some good insulation on it, like the Hubble.
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Offline vjkane

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #11 on: 02/19/2016 05:27 PM »
Have they made a final decision that they will use the NRO mirror for WFIRST? I heard a lot of grumbling that it's not really good for that mission (not qualified for very cold temperatures, for instance) and that may drive up the cost substantially.
Everything I've heard is that they plan to use the NRO mirror + structure.  The wide field and larger aperature substantially improves the measurements vs the Decadal concept.  The larger spacecraft probably does drive costs, but the science return is much large.  I think the coronograph is also driving cost.

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #12 on: 02/19/2016 06:18 PM »
The plan is to use the NRO parts. WFIRST entered formulation (Phase B?) officially on Wednesday so I'm not sure if the decision is absolutely final, but it's hard to see them reversing it. Sensitivity at longer wavelengths is lost because the telescope is warmer than in non-NRO plans, but the larger mirror allows higher resolution and sensitivity at shorter wavelengths. FOV isn't really that different from the non-NRO design, I think it may actually be even a bit smaller.

Telescope will operate at a similar temperature as HST (because the mirror isn't designed for cold temperatures), so there's no need for anything like JWST-type sun-shade.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2016 06:22 PM by as58 »

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #13 on: 02/19/2016 06:20 PM »
Interesting to hear the mirrors from the NRO are deformable, I have been wondering about that for some time.

Matthew

AFAIK the only deformable mirrors are in the coronagraph, not in NRO supplied parts of the telescope.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #14 on: 02/19/2016 11:24 PM »
Talked to somebody knowledgeable.

Yeah, they are using the NRO optics (they were not given all the optics). They have to build a lot of stuff to get it up to spec, because it was not designed to astronomy spec.

Using the optics loses some of the farther IR stuff because the optics cannot get too cold. However, compared to the earlier WFIRST concept, this one can do much more exoplanets stuff. So they lose things but gain things and whether this is good or bad depends upon which bit of science you want to do. Some people are very unhappy, the exoplanets people are happy.

The tough issue is cost. This is going to cost a lot more than originally planned. I think that the original plan was to do it at around $1.8 billion in FY15 dollars. The actual price is going to be significantly more than that (although probably not twice as much). Those numbers may already be public, but if not, they soon will be. What I don't know is if the NRO optics actually saved any money. Maybe if they had started from scratch they could have kept the cost lower. We'll have to wait a decade or more for somebody to write a paper about that.

Offline chirata

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #15 on: 02/20/2016 03:49 AM »
Hi all,

WFIRST has indeed entered formulation (i.e. now in Phase A). To answer some questions:

1. The baseline has changed from geosynchronous orbit to Sun-Earth L2. In the pre-phase A study we concluded both were possible; the geosynchronous orbit had a substantial advantage in terms of data downlink, but L2 is lower risk for the payload in many areas including radiation (one avoids the trapped electron belt), stray light from the Earth and Moon, and thermal stability. The payload is the hardest part of this mission and it’s prudent to take the lower-risk option.

2. The existing telescope does not have a deformable mirror -- the deformable mirrors will indeed be inside the coronagraph.

3. The telescope is warm (we’re looking at around 284 K), but remember that the infrared science program that was selected for WFIRST by the Decadal Survey goes out to a wavelength of 2 microns. Thermal emission is determined by the Wien part of a blackbody curve, multiplied by the net emissivity of the mirrors, and with margin tacked on; that depends very strongly on both wavelength and temperature, but basically it is less than the sky background from the zodiacal light at wavelengths up to ~1.76 microns (exact number depends on where you look) and rises rapidly thereafter. In the reddest wavelength filter used for imaging on WFIRST (still being discussed, but roughly 1.7-2.0 microns) it works out that the sensitivity of the warm 2.4 m telescope is about the same as a cold 1.5 m telescope (what was recommended in the Decadal Survey). If you went farther into the infrared, the colder, smaller telescope would be better, but for most of the planned science program the 2.4 m is a big win.

[3B. The coronagraph uses silicon detectors sensitive to ~1 micron and so the thermal emission isn’t an issue there. The wide-field near infrared camera is affected by the telescope emission, and the optical design actually re-images the primary mirror and has a mask to block the thermal emission from the baffles and secondary support struts, which are much more emissive than the silver coating on the telescope mirrors. This is a common procedure in astronomical IR instrumentation. Note that the 3-mirror optical design gives you a natural place in the instrument to do this.]

4. The telescope points into empty space and needs heaters to maintain it at the operating temperature. The detectors, on the other hand, really do need to be cold (in the range of 90-100 K) to suppress dark current. They will be actively cooled with a closed-loop (no consumables) mechanical cryocooler.

5. The launch vehicle has not been selected yet. WFIRST could fly on the Delta IV Heavy, and of US vehicles flying today that would be the only option that provides sufficient margin, but there may be other vehicles in this class by the time the launch services contract goes out.

6. Some modifications to the telescope are needed (discussed in the SDT report referenced earlier in this thread). To make a corrected wide-field reflecting telescope you need at least 3 powered mirrors, we are given 2 (these will have some modifications) and the 3rd is new (located in the wide-field instrument).

7. The mission is being given a cost cap but I don’t know if that number has been made public yet.

Offline dror

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #16 on: 02/20/2016 08:17 PM »
I know it's early, but is there a target date (year) for launch?
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Offline AnalogMan

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #17 on: 02/20/2016 10:38 PM »
I know it's early, but is there a target date (year) for launch?

NASA Introduces New, Wider Set of Eyes on the Universe
Press Release 16-016 - Feb. 18, 2016

"WFIRST is slated to launch in the mid-2020s."

http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-introduces-new-wider-set-of-eyes-on-the-universe

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #18 on: 02/20/2016 11:10 PM »
I've seen the figure banded around of $2.5 billion for this mission, but I've no idea where that originates from.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #19 on: 02/21/2016 10:24 AM »
I know it's early, but is there a target date (year) for launch?

2024 or 2025.

Offline yg1968

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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #21 on: 04/29/2016 04:26 PM »
I heard a fascinating briefing on WFIRST the other day. Part of it had to deal with whether NASA was going to declare this a "Class A" or "Class B" mission. Currently it is being treated as Class B, but a person who was there pointed out that it has attributes that should make it Class A, including $2 billion, international involvement, and a prestige project. I don't know the differences between A and B, but they have to do with the way the agency treats risk and what is and is not acceptable risk. Class A projects are not allowed to have much risk. They're too important.

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #22 on: 05/04/2016 07:18 PM »
Possibly to be paired with WFIRST.

Quote
The shade, which is about the  size of a baseball diamond, would be deployed as part a single mission. As the video above shows, the large shade would be mounted at the end of a space telescope – in this case, NASA’s upcoming Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) – and then detaches and deploys to a distance of several thousands kilometers in front of it.

Such a large shade operating at such a long distance from of its paired telescope is essential when dealing with distant stars.”Because stars are so far away the angular distance between the planet and star is quite small,” said Kasdin, “requiring a very large starshade (20 to 50 meters in diameter) flying very far from the telescope (up to 50,000 km). Nevertheless, many astronomers believe this is the best technology to detect an Earthlike planet in the near future, a belief aided by the fact that few special requirements are placed on the telescope.”

Paired with other instruments, like spectrometers, devices like the Starshade will not only allow astronomers to be able to spot planets more easily, but also obtain information about their atmospheres. By studying their chemical compositions – i.e. looking for the presence of oxygen/nitrogen, water vapor, etc. – we would be able to tell with a fair degree of certainty whether or not life exists on them.

The Starshade technology is one of the top candidates for a flagship-level mission in the next decade and a top Astro2010 priority for technology development. In addition to working with WFIRST, it is possible it will be paired with missions like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the James Webb Space Telescope.

“We are hoping that a starshade capable of Earth detection will be recommended to fly with the upcoming WFIRST mission,” Kasdin added, “allowing the first image of an Earth in the next decade.”

http://www.universetoday.com/128664/starshade-prepares-image-new-earths/

Offline yg1968

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #23 on: 05/07/2016 07:48 PM »
Quote
Right now there are no plans to put a starshade on WFIRST,” says Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division. Instead, he says, the agency is “in a ‘don’t-preclude-a-starshade’ mode.” As it happens, though, not precluding a starshade closely resembles a concerted effort to build and launch one.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-nasa-s-next-big-telescope-could-take-pictures-of-another-earth/

Offline Star One

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Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #24 on: 06/07/2016 04:19 PM »
Reading this article about the Heavy's forthcoming flight if as it says they are going to build all the cores now, store them and then close the line, then there is no mention in the forthcoming manifest of this payload which makes me wonder if WFIRST might be manifested to another launcher.

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/06/07/surveillance-satellite-launching-thursday-atop-delta-4-heavy-rocket/
« Last Edit: 06/07/2016 04:21 PM by Star One »

Offline Jim

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #25 on: 06/07/2016 04:55 PM »
Reading this article about the Heavy's forthcoming flight if as it says they are going to build all the cores now, store them and then close the line, then there is no mention in the forthcoming manifest of this payload which makes me wonder if WFIRST might be manifested to another launcher.

NASA hasn't come close to assign any launcher to WFIRST

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #26 on: 06/07/2016 05:06 PM »
Reading this article about the Heavy's forthcoming flight if as it says they are going to build all the cores now, store them and then close the line, then there is no mention in the forthcoming manifest of this payload which makes me wonder if WFIRST might be manifested to another launcher.

NASA hasn't come close to assign any launcher to WFIRST

Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #27 on: 06/07/2016 06:16 PM »
Reading this article about the Heavy's forthcoming flight if as it says they are going to build all the cores now, store them and then close the line, then there is no mention in the forthcoming manifest of this payload which makes me wonder if WFIRST might be manifested to another launcher.

NASA hasn't come close to assign any launcher to WFIRST


Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

WFIRST launch is currently scheduled for the mid 2020s.  It may be more cost-effective for NASA to let the Delta IV-Heavy "bus" proceed on its final delivery run (the linked article lists 2022 for a final flight), and begin the process of booking a flight on the suitable LV's (and upper stages) that will likely be operating and have a launch record 10 years from now.
Examples:
Vulcan
Falcon Heavy
Other?

Just a thought...
« Last Edit: 06/07/2016 06:37 PM by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #28 on: 06/07/2016 07:07 PM »
Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

Doesn't matter
 WFIRST will be designed to fly on an equivalent vehicle.  Much like JWST was.
« Last Edit: 06/07/2016 07:10 PM by Jim »

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #29 on: 06/07/2016 07:58 PM »
Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

Doesn't matter
 WFIRST will be designed to fly on an equivalent vehicle.  Much like JWST was.

Falcon Heavy seems the obvious choice, would Vulcan have reached the necessary number of flights by then to reassure NASA of its reliability.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #30 on: 06/09/2016 12:26 AM »
Answered my own question on this.

The NRO optics from the canceled FIA optical program was designed to go to a low polar orbit on an Atlas variant. This was instead of the Delta Heavy required for the current/previous generation of optical spy satellites. Since this same (or similar, who knows how much mass has been added and subtracted) payload now needs to get to L2 (was GEO) it needs a bigger rocket. So Delta Heavy or larger makes sense.

Since it is a NASA payload and NASA has to justifying the need for SLS, why hasn't anyone suggested SLS? It doesn't seem a stretch, and the capability overkill should be able to handle any weight growth with out them having to make drastic and costly changes to keep within the capabilities of the Delta Heavy/Falcon Heavy/Vulcan ACES.

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Offline Jim

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #31 on: 06/09/2016 01:18 AM »

Falcon Heavy seems the obvious choice, would Vulcan have reached the necessary number of flights by then to reassure NASA of its reliability.

no, there is no "obvious" choice.  FH is not even on the NASA contract

Offline Fequalsma

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #32 on: 06/09/2016 04:25 AM »
Dwayne -

See Appendix B - (Risk) Classification Considerations for NASA Class A-D Payloads of NPR 8750.4 at:
http://nodis3.gsfc.nasa.gov/npg_img/N_PR_8705_0004_/N_PR_8705_0004_.pdf

F=ma

I heard a fascinating briefing on WFIRST the other day. Part of it had to deal with whether NASA was going to declare this a "Class A" or "Class B" mission. Currently it is being treated as Class B, but a person who was there pointed out that it has attributes that should make it Class A, including $2 billion, international involvement, and a prestige project. I don't know the differences between A and B, but they have to do with the way the agency treats risk and what is and is not acceptable risk. Class A projects are not allowed to have much risk. They're too important.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #33 on: 06/09/2016 05:08 PM »
Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

Doesn't matter
 WFIRST will be designed to fly on an equivalent vehicle.  Much like JWST was.

Falcon Heavy seems the obvious choice, would Vulcan have reached the necessary number of flights by then to reassure NASA of its reliability.
Cassini, a flagship mission with RTGs, flew on the first flight of Titan IVB/Centaur.

IIRC, submitting to the NASA &/or USAF procedures to ensure reliability can substitute for some (or all?) previous LV flights before committing a really, really important spacecraft to launch on said vehicle.

SpaceX chose to forego at least some of that process, and have to prove Falcon's reliability via more previous successful flights.

(Our NSF members who LIVE this stuff will be better able to say AND correct me if my knowledge is faulty.)
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 05:09 PM by zubenelgenubi »
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Online Ronsmytheiii

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #34 on: 06/09/2016 05:41 PM »
Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

Doesn't matter
 WFIRST will be designed to fly on an equivalent vehicle.  Much like JWST was.

Speaking of which, I wonder if ESA would be willing to "donate" another Ariane launch for this one just like they did for the JWST.

Offline woods170

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #35 on: 06/09/2016 06:06 PM »
Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

Doesn't matter
 WFIRST will be designed to fly on an equivalent vehicle.  Much like JWST was.

Speaking of which, I wonder if ESA would be willing to "donate" another Ariane launch for this one just like they did for the JWST.
Way too soon for that, given that the size of ESA participation in WFIRST remains to be determined.
http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/wfirst
« Last Edit: 06/09/2016 06:07 PM by woods170 »

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #36 on: 06/09/2016 07:13 PM »
Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

Doesn't matter
 WFIRST will be designed to fly on an equivalent vehicle.  Much like JWST was.

Speaking of which, I wonder if ESA would be willing to "donate" another Ariane launch for this one just like they did for the JWST.
When will it launch? Wouldn't Ariane 5 be retired by then?
Also, will it have enough performance? Ariane 5 ECA does 6.6 tonnes to L2 injection, while Atlas V 551 does 6.1t and DIVH can do at least 10.1t. Falcon Heavy should be able to do at least 15t, and Vulcan/ACES 13t.

Offline woods170

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #37 on: 06/09/2016 07:50 PM »
Well it sounds like they might miss the bus when it comes to using the Heavy.

Doesn't matter
 WFIRST will be designed to fly on an equivalent vehicle.  Much like JWST was.

Speaking of which, I wonder if ESA would be willing to "donate" another Ariane launch for this one just like they did for the JWST.
When will it launch? Wouldn't Ariane 5 be retired by then?
Also, will it have enough performance? Ariane 5 ECA does 6.6 tonnes to L2 injection, while Atlas V 551 does 6.1t and DIVH can do at least 10.1t. Falcon Heavy should be able to do at least 15t, and Vulcan/ACES 13t.
With that 2.4 meter primary mirror it sure as hell won't be a light payload. Current weight estimates have already increased over 0.4 metric tons above last year's report and now is at slightly above 5.5 metric tons of (wet) launch weight.
However, these science spacecraft have a tendency to increase in weight significantly during development and IMO WFIRST won't be an exception. Another tendency for this type of science missions is that they are generally several years late compared to early planning. Given that launch is currently estimated in the mid-2020's it would be no surprise that Ariane 5 ECA is no longer around when WFIRST is finally ready for launch.
If and when ESA offers a launch, it will, IMO, be on Ariane 6.

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #38 on: 08/16/2016 03:43 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

Quote
FINDING 4-2: Because of the risk of cost growth, the concern raised in Evaluation of the Implementation of WFIRST/AFTA that WFIRST could distort the NASA program balance remains a concern. In addition, the delay in the implementation of WFIRST over the schedule anticipated in NWNH means that cost growth in WFIRST would limit options for the next decadal survey.

SpaceNews also has coverage of the midterm assessment.

http://spacenews.com/report-warns-of-wfirst-cost-growth/

Online redliox

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #39 on: 08/16/2016 06:10 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
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Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #40 on: 08/16/2016 06:49 PM »
Seems a bit strong to descope just because ULA have increased costs. Maybe alternative launchers should be considered.

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #41 on: 08/16/2016 07:14 PM »
Seems a bit strong to descope just because ULA have increased costs. Maybe alternative launchers should be considered.

It's not only that, there are also other reasons for the increased cost estimate.

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #42 on: 08/16/2016 07:23 PM »
Seems a bit strong to descope just because ULA have increased costs. Maybe alternative launchers should be considered.

It's not only that, there are also other reasons for the increased cost estimate.
But from going on that article it sounded like the launcher costs was the biggest factor?

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #43 on: 08/16/2016 11:15 PM »
Seems a bit strong to descope just because ULA have increased costs. Maybe alternative launchers should be considered.

It's not only that, there are also other reasons for the increased cost estimate.
But from going on that article it sounded like the launcher costs was the biggest factor?

The assessment said it was a factor, but not necessarily the biggest factor.  Also, the 25% cost increase was over a 2015 DRM that had a coronagraph as well.

Quote
However, changes to the mission design between the 2015 DRM and the version of WFIRST presented at the Mission Concept Review and approved at KDP-A led to an increase of the estimated cost by approximately 25 percent ($550 million). An unknown portion of this change is associated with the change from geosynchronous orbit to L2, and another portion is associated with an increased estimate for the cost of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle (the choice of launch vehicle did not change, just its estimated cost). Some of it may simply reflect more accurate assessment as the mission design matures. NASA’s current cost projection for WFIRST is $2.6 billion to $2.8 billion in FY2015 dollars for a 2025 launch. A key uncertainty is the launch vehicle cost, which is difficult to project 8-10 years into the future at this time. It is projected that an accelerated funding profile leading to a 2024 launch would save approximately $0.3 billion relative to the “in-guide” profile that leads to a 2025 launch.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #44 on: 08/17/2016 12:41 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #45 on: 08/17/2016 04:28 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.
Unfortunately, it's a very normal situation. These repurposing schemes always sound great when you start and always wind up costing more time, money and trouble than building from scratch.

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #46 on: 08/17/2016 04:55 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.
Unfortunately, it's a very normal situation. These repurposing schemes always sound great when you start and always wind up costing more time, money and trouble than building from scratch.

All this negativity and no mention of the positive side that in the end this will mean more science.

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #47 on: 08/17/2016 08:32 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.
Unfortunately, it's a very normal situation. These repurposing schemes always sound great when you start and always wind up costing more time, money and trouble than building from scratch.

All this negativity and no mention of the positive side that in the end this will mean more science.

The various assessments have been consistent that that the free mirror would have, at best, a level cost impact, with increased cost risk and increased science return.  Also, it appears that the free mirror has a positive political impact.

From the 2014 evaluation:
Quote
Finding 3-2: The opportunity to increase the telescope aperture and resolution by employing the 2.4-meter AFTA mirror will significantly enhance the scientific power of the mission, primarily for cosmology and general survey science, and will also positively impact the exoplanet microlensing survey. WFIRST/AFTA’s planned observing program is responsive to all the scientific goals described in NWNH. (p. 37)

Finding 2-4: The risk of cost growth is significantly higher for WFIRST/AFTA without the coronagraph than for WFIRST/IDRM. (p. 39)

From the 2016 assessment:
Quote
Thanks to (1) JWST remaining on schedule and budget since its 2011 reprogram, (2) the adoption of the 2.4-m National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) telescope, and (3) the addition of the coronagraph, WFIRST-AFTA has enjoyed stronger support in Congress, within NASA, and in the astronomical community, compared to the previous implementations of WFIRST. All three of these developments have played a role in garnering this stronger support, and it is hard to disentangle their individual contributions. In FY2014, FY2015, and FY2016, Congress allocated more funds to WFIRST than requested by the administration.

Note that the coronagraph is only possible because of the NRO mirror:
Quote
FINDING 4-3: The WFIRST coronagraph responds to an opportunity that arose after NWNH, the availability of the 2.4-m AFTA telescope.

Offline catdlr

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #48 on: 09/19/2016 03:43 PM »
WFIRST: Uncovering the Mysteries of the Universe—Updated 4k version

NASA Goddard

Published on Sep 19, 2016
WFIRST, the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope, is a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics. The telescope has a primary mirror that is 2.4 meters in diameter (7.9 feet), and is the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope's primary mirror. WFIRST will have two instruments, the Wide Field Instrument, and the Coronagraph Instrument.

(Updated 9/20 new video link)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1vFDwgnXxE?t=001

« Last Edit: 09/20/2016 11:21 PM by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #49 on: 11/10/2016 04:47 PM »
Here is part of the WFIST mockup.

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #50 on: 01/02/2017 08:19 PM »
Quote
Jeff Foust – ‏@jeff_foust
Still: WFIRST scheduled to go into Phase B in Oct.; decision around that time whether to maintain compatibility with a starshade. #ExoPAG

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816016502579228672
« Last Edit: 01/02/2017 08:19 PM by Star One »

Offline Star One

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Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #51 on: 01/03/2017 07:45 PM »
Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Hertz: work on key instrument technologies for WFIRST running well ahead of schedule; don’t expect it to be biggest challenge. #AAS229

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816379196012261377

Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Audience Q: what is the biggest challenge for WFIRST, then? Hertz: general cost control, since this is a large mission. #AAS229

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816379395866624000

Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Hertz: midterm assessment recommended NASA prioritize gravitational wave tech dev over exoplanet tech beyond WFIRST coronagraph. #AAS229

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816386114210541568

Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Hertz: we’ll need to make decision soon on how much to spend on starshade technology; tough to do not knowing overall FY17 budget. #AAS229

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816386262009401344
« Last Edit: 01/03/2017 08:05 PM by Star One »

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #52 on: 01/06/2017 07:33 PM »
Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
Maggie Turnbull, in #AAS229 starshade session: we were so ahead of our time in 2000 with the Terrestrial Planet Finder mission concept.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/817464712795398144

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #53 on: 01/09/2017 01:05 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.
Unfortunately, it's a very normal situation. These repurposing schemes always sound great when you start and always wind up costing more time, money and trouble than building from scratch.

Maybe, but from Congress's point of view writing the checks, that NRO telescope was a complete write off worth several billion dollars of taxpayer money. 

By finally using the NRO telescope, they get some of that invested money back as long as the cost of "new" WFIRST doesn't exceed the projected cost of "old" WFIRST plus the original cost of the NRO telescope.

Sounds a lot like the sunk cost fallacy.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #54 on: 01/09/2017 02:49 PM »
Maybe, but from Congress's point of view writing the checks, that NRO telescope was a complete write off worth several billion dollars of taxpayer money. 

By finally using the NRO telescope, they get some of that invested money back as long as the cost of "new" WFIRST doesn't exceed the projected cost of "old" WFIRST plus the original cost of the NRO telescope.

Sounds a lot like the sunk cost fallacy.

I don't think that the sunk cost fallacy is really a fallacy--looking at these things that way overly simplifies the situation. It's a lot more complex and subtle than that. One possible reality is that WFIRST may never have found political support at all if it had not been for the NRO optics. So calling it a "fallacy" misses the issue that these kinds of decisions are made on the basis of a whole bunch of considerations and priorities that differ from person to person.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2017 02:50 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Nomadd

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #55 on: 01/09/2017 02:56 PM »
Maybe, but from Congress's point of view writing the checks, that NRO telescope was a complete write off worth several billion dollars of taxpayer money. 

By finally using the NRO telescope, they get some of that invested money back as long as the cost of "new" WFIRST doesn't exceed the projected cost of "old" WFIRST plus the original cost of the NRO telescope.

Sounds a lot like the sunk cost fallacy.

I don't think that the sunk cost fallacy is really a fallacy--looking at these things that way overly simplifies the situation. It's a lot more complex and subtle than that. One possible reality is that WFIRST may never have found political support at all if it had not been for the NRO optics. So calling it a "fallacy" misses the issue that these kinds of decisions are made on the basis of a whole bunch of considerations and priorities that differ from person to person.
Put it this way. If it gets the thing built, it was a good path. Just like building the ISS, servicing Hubble or any of the things that people claim could have been done cheaper and more efficiently, doing them the way they were done might have been the only way they'd ever get done, considering the public and congressional relations factor. 

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #56 on: 01/09/2017 04:57 PM »
Put it this way. If it gets the thing built, it was a good path. Just like building the ISS, servicing Hubble or any of the things that people claim could have been done cheaper and more efficiently, doing them the way they were done might have been the only way they'd ever get done, considering the public and congressional relations factor. 

Yes. People can always propose ways to do things that have been done that they claim could have been cheaper, but that's very hypothetical--it's a "could" and not a "would."

I've seen this most with Hubble, when people claim that for the price of Hubble, we could have bought a half dozen similar telescopes. There are some big problems with that claim, but to explain it you would really have to go into how the astrophysics community prioritizes their projects. They never would have prioritized six telescopes like that, they would have come up with a different thing each time. Now maybe that approach would have been better, but you have to explore that hypothetical, not the less likely one of six similar telescopes. Plus, the political support depends upon the decision you make, and it's hard to know if a different decision would have had the same amount of political support. Would the general public have been so upset if Hubble #6 was being abandoned instead of the world-famous Hubble that we got? Probably not. So a different approach would have had eroding political support.


And I should add that I am not arguing that the way things have been done is the best way or the most cost effective way. There may well have been better and more cost effective alternatives that were not followed. My point is that if we are going to discuss alternative approaches that were rejected, we need to acknowledge that there is a lot of uncertainty in that discussion. It's very rarely clear-cut and obvious.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2017 04:59 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #57 on: 01/09/2017 10:04 PM »
Maybe, but from Congress's point of view writing the checks, that NRO telescope was a complete write off worth several billion dollars of taxpayer money. 

By finally using the NRO telescope, they get some of that invested money back as long as the cost of "new" WFIRST doesn't exceed the projected cost of "old" WFIRST plus the original cost of the NRO telescope.

Sounds a lot like the sunk cost fallacy.

I don't think that the sunk cost fallacy is really a fallacy--looking at these things that way overly simplifies the situation. It's a lot more complex and subtle than that. One possible reality is that WFIRST may never have found political support at all if it had not been for the NRO optics. So calling it a "fallacy" misses the issue that these kinds of decisions are made on the basis of a whole bunch of considerations and priorities that differ from person to person.

Right...in other words, Congress routinely falls for the sunk cost fallacy, and so you can use it to get what you want from them sometimes.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #58 on: 01/10/2017 02:30 AM »
Right...in other words, Congress routinely falls for the sunk cost fallacy, and so you can use it to get what you want from them sometimes.

"Falls for" implies that they are dumb and the person talking about "the sunk cost fallacy" is not dumb.

I would instead counter-propose that focusing on "the sunk cost fallacy" ignores the complexity of how politics works. It is not all about money, it is often about perception and interest and support. If everybody in Congress took into account "the sunk cost fallacy" and simply canceled stuff when it got expensive, then nothing would ever get built. You'd save lots of money that way, right? Well, after you spent the money and then stopped building something--at that point you'd save the money. Doesn't sound all that efficient.

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #59 on: 01/10/2017 01:16 PM »
Right...in other words, Congress routinely falls for the sunk cost fallacy, and so you can use it to get what you want from them sometimes.

"Falls for" implies that they are dumb and the person talking about "the sunk cost fallacy" is not dumb.

I would instead counter-propose that focusing on "the sunk cost fallacy" ignores the complexity of how politics works. It is not all about money, it is often about perception and interest and support. If everybody in Congress took into account "the sunk cost fallacy" and simply canceled stuff when it got expensive, then nothing would ever get built. You'd save lots of money that way, right? Well, after you spent the money and then stopped building something--at that point you'd save the money. Doesn't sound all that efficient.

This is a fundamental problem with our funding approach - if you price something at what it's going to cost, it'll never get funded.  If you price it to get funded, you're going to get criticized - or cut - when it ends up costing what it actually costs.

Online jgoldader

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #60 on: 01/10/2017 03:05 PM »
There's much in common between this discussion, and the decadal survey discussion, and the "what to replace SLS with if it's cancelled" discussion.

There's the old saying that you never want to see sausage being made, or political decisions being made.  These funding decisions are irreducibly political, since they have to be made by politicians.  So low-balling prices gets you in the door, sunk cost keeps you going, and then you end up on the plate with eggs and potatoes.  It's ugly, from a strictly "pure" perspective, but not much that happens in political situations (or between even well-meaning people) is pure.  There are almost always compromises and bending of rules.
Recovering astronomer

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #61 on: 01/10/2017 03:22 PM »
This is a fundamental problem with our funding approach - if you price something at what it's going to cost, it'll never get funded.  If you price it to get funded, you're going to get criticized - or cut - when it ends up costing what it actually costs.

Except your phrasing assumes that it is easy to know what something is going to cost. It's not. These are estimates based upon a lot of unknowns, with a lot of assumptions and large error bars.

Disavow yourself of the belief that everybody is lying and deceitful and just trying to get something approved so that they can blow the budget later. I realize that's the stereotype, but the real world is not so clear-cut. This is a complicated and iterative process, meaning that they estimate, they proceed, then they estimate again. There are ways to improve the accuracy of that process, but it's not possible to create an entirely accurate estimate of costs for many of these things. (Oh, and it is the same way in business too, they just don't air their dirty laundry.)

Also, cost is an important factor, but it is not the only factor, nor is it necessarily the most important factor. That's true in everyday life too. If it wasn't, then everybody would drive only inexpensive cars.


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #62 on: 01/10/2017 03:25 PM »
There's much in common between this discussion, and the decadal survey discussion, and the "what to replace SLS with if it's cancelled" discussion.

There's the old saying that you never want to see sausage being made, or political decisions being made.  These funding decisions are irreducibly political, since they have to be made by politicians.  So low-balling prices gets you in the door, sunk cost keeps you going, and then you end up on the plate with eggs and potatoes.  It's ugly, from a strictly "pure" perspective, but not much that happens in political situations (or between even well-meaning people) is pure.  There are almost always compromises and bending of rules.

I skipped that thread because I figure that it's a lot of the typical flailing of arms and opinions masquerading as facts (I bet "Falcon Heavy and Red Dragon will get us to Mars!" is a common theme).

But I'd point out that the sciences have operated by a different set of rules than the human spaceflight program. The decadal survey process makes science mission selection much less political. Much less. There are not as many people trying to mess around with it and remake everything. That's why the decadal survey process is envied by a lot of people who look at the human spaceflight program and wish that it would be more orderly and stable and less higgledy-piggledy.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #63 on: 01/10/2017 04:14 PM »
"Never ascribe to malice..." comes to mind during this discussion.


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #64 on: 01/10/2017 04:21 PM »
"Never ascribe to malice..." comes to mind during this discussion.



And since I'm playing contrarian here, I'll counter that one too. There are good and smart people working on these programs trying to do a good job. They're not screwups and liars. Running a really complex and cutting edge program is not easy. It's not possible to get everything right the first time.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #65 on: 01/10/2017 04:39 PM »
Sorry, I was trying to say just that with the ellipse. Should have said more.

Offline JH

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #66 on: 01/10/2017 06:05 PM »
I skipped that thread because I figure that it's a lot of the typical flailing of arms and opinions masquerading as facts (I bet "Falcon Heavy and Red Dragon will get us to Mars!" is a common theme).

There have actually been a variety of proposals, but the consensus seems to be that the SLS was arbitrarily sized, given the elements used in DRM 5.0. From this they conclude that it's role could be filled by any or all of the upcoming generation of commercial heavy launchers and that the money should therefore be spent on payloads and research into on-orbit refueling and autonomous assembly. I don't recall seeing Red Dragon mentioned. My suspicions about the thread were similar to yours before I looked at it.

Anyway, back to WFIRST!

Offline jbenton

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #67 on: 01/17/2017 08:45 PM »
Talked to somebody knowledgeable.

Yeah, they are using the NRO optics (they were not given all the optics). They have to build a lot of stuff to get it up to spec, because it was not designed to astronomy spec.

Using the optics loses some of the farther IR stuff because the optics cannot get too cold. However, compared to the earlier WFIRST concept, this one can do much more exoplanets stuff. So they lose things but gain things and whether this is good or bad depends upon which bit of science you want to do. Some people are very unhappy, the exoplanets people are happy.

The tough issue is cost. This is going to cost a lot more than originally planned. I think that the original plan was to do it at around $1.8 billion in FY15 dollars. The actual price is going to be significantly more than that (although probably not twice as much). Those numbers may already be public, but if not, they soon will be. What I don't know is if the NRO optics actually saved any money. Maybe if they had started from scratch they could have kept the cost lower. We'll have to wait a decade or more for somebody to write a paper about that.


3. The telescope is warm (we’re looking at around 284 K), but remember that the infrared science program that was selected for WFIRST by the Decadal Survey goes out to a wavelength of 2 microns. Thermal emission is determined by the Wien part of a blackbody curve, multiplied by the net emissivity of the mirrors, and with margin tacked on; that depends very strongly on both wavelength and temperature, but basically it is less than the sky background from the zodiacal light at wavelengths up to ~1.76 microns (exact number depends on where you look) and rises rapidly thereafter. In the reddest wavelength filter used for imaging on WFIRST (still being discussed, but roughly 1.7-2.0 microns) it works out that the sensitivity of the warm 2.4 m telescope is about the same as a cold 1.5 m telescope (what was recommended in the Decadal Survey). If you went farther into the infrared, the colder, smaller telescope would be better, but for most of the planned science program the 2.4 m is a big win.

[3B. The coronagraph uses silicon detectors sensitive to ~1 micron and so the thermal emission isn’t an issue there. The wide-field near infrared camera is affected by the telescope emission, and the optical design actually re-images the primary mirror and has a mask to block the thermal emission from the baffles and secondary support struts, which are much more emissive than the silver coating on the telescope mirrors. This is a common procedure in astronomical IR instrumentation. Note that the 3-mirror optical design gives you a natural place in the instrument to do this.]

4. The telescope points into empty space and needs heaters to maintain it at the operating temperature. The detectors, on the other hand, really do need to be cold (in the range of 90-100 K) to suppress dark current. They will be actively cooled with a closed-loop (no consumables) mechanical cryocooler.

6. Some modifications to the telescope are needed (discussed in the SDT report referenced earlier in this thread). To make a corrected wide-field reflecting telescope you need at least 3 powered mirrors, we are given 2 (these will have some modifications) and the 3rd is new (located in the wide-field instrument).


NASA funded the develpment sensor for NEOCam (which apparently is called "the NEOCam sensor") as part of the Discovery #12 selection. The sensor is supposed to perform infrared observations with a warmer mirror:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/multimedia/pia16955.html
http://neocam.ipac.caltech.edu/news/tracking-sensor-passes-test
http://www.spacesafetymagazine.com/space-hazards/asteroid-hitting-earth/nasas-asteroid-tracking-sensor-green-test/
 
Could some kind of enlarged version help WFIRST-AFTA with Far Infrared observations?

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #68 on: 01/17/2017 09:20 PM »
NASA funded the develpment sensor for NEOCam (which apparently is called "the NEOCam sensor") as part of the Discovery #12 selection. The sensor is supposed to perform infrared observations with a warmer mirror:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/multimedia/pia16955.html
http://neocam.ipac.caltech.edu/news/tracking-sensor-passes-test
http://www.spacesafetymagazine.com/space-hazards/asteroid-hitting-earth/nasas-asteroid-tracking-sensor-green-test/
 
Could some kind of enlarged version help WFIRST-AFTA with Far Infrared observations?

AFAIK the main novelty of the NEOCam sensor is that the sensor itself doesn't need to be as cold as with current techniques, so less cooling (or even completely passive cooling) would be enough. With WFIRST the problem is that the whole telescope is so warm that its own emission drowns the signal from astrophysical objects.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #69 on: 01/18/2017 12:13 AM »
AFAIK the main novelty of the NEOCam sensor is that the sensor itself doesn't need to be as cold as with current techniques, so less cooling (or even completely passive cooling) would be enough. With WFIRST the problem is that the whole telescope is so warm that its own emission drowns the signal from astrophysical objects.

Aren't they also looking at different wavelengths?

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #70 on: 01/18/2017 08:14 AM »
AFAIK the main novelty of the NEOCam sensor is that the sensor itself doesn't need to be as cold as with current techniques, so less cooling (or even completely passive cooling) would be enough. With WFIRST the problem is that the whole telescope is so warm that its own emission drowns the signal from astrophysical objects.

Aren't they also looking at different wavelengths?

Yes, NEOCam sensor is for 6 to 10 um while WFIRST red cutoff is around 2 um. To observe at NEOCam wavelengths (or anything much beyond 2 um), the whole telescope optics need to be cool/cold.

Offline Vultur

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #71 on: 01/19/2017 05:50 AM »
If everybody in Congress took into account "the sunk cost fallacy" and simply canceled stuff when it got expensive, then nothing would ever get built.

Why? I thought the whole point of the "sunk cost" was simply that money already spent is irrelevant to a rational decision.

If Mission X was budgeted for $100 million, and you've already spent (some amount) and it now looks like it's going to cost $500 million (more) to finish, then you decide based on whether that mission is worth spending $500 million for.

"Sunk cost" doesn't necessarily mean ignoring political considerations or public support - it just means that "we've already spent $X so we shouldn't give up now" is irrational.

I agree that it's inherently impossible to perfectly estimate costs for something that hasn't been done before, before the fact. That doesn't mean pulling the plug isn't reasonable when the still remaining unspent cost becomes multiple times greater than the estimate the project was originally approved assuming.

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #72 on: 01/19/2017 03:31 PM »
Work Begins in Palo Alto on NASA's Dark Energy Hunter

PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is helping NASA begin the hunt for dark energy, a mysterious force powering the universe's accelerating expansion. An instrument assembly the company is developing, if selected by NASA for production, will be the core of the primary scientific instrument aboard the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), whose mission aims to uncover hundreds of millions more galaxies and reveal the physics that shapes them.

Scientists and engineers recently began work developing the Wide-Field Optical-Mechanical Assembly (WOMA) for WFIRST, NASA's newest astrophysics telescope program. WOMA comprises the major portion of scientific components on one of two instruments on the telescope. NASA chose Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto to advance from an earlier study into the formulation phase. WOMA uses similar approaches to the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), which the ATC built as the primary optical instrument for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

"Lockheed Martin scientists achieved groundbreaking results with NIRCam's precision and sensitivity," said Jeff Vanden Beukel, WOMA program manager at Lockheed Martin.  "There's no time to lose as we support a fast-paced schedule, and our experience with NIRCam's precision optics positions our WOMA design to be capable, producible and on budget."

Scientists and engineers are collaborating to design optical systems, mechanisms, structure, electronics and thermal control components. Similar to NIRCam, the Wide-Field Instrument on WFIRST will be a powerful optical payload. However, WFIRST will have a massive focal plane array, 200 times larger than NIRCam, to capture what some liken to panoramic images of the star field.

In addition to dark energy research, WOMA will also use microlensing to complete the census of known exoplanets. Microlensing takes advantage of brief distortions in space to reveal new planets around distant stars, and WFIRST's wide field of view will allow scientists to monitor 200 million stars every 15 minutes for more than a year. When NASA launches WFIRST, it will work in concert with other observatories to jointly research new places and forces in our universe.

NASA plans to select a winning design next year for production, and WFIRST is expected to launch in the mid-2020s.

About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.
 
SOURCE Lockheed Martin

Caption: Lockheed Martin's optical expertise could deliver breathtaking panoramas of the star field

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #73 on: 02/07/2017 05:51 PM »
Sad news related to the mission: Neil Gehrels, WFIRST project scientist and the PI of Swift mission died yesterday.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2017 07:14 PM by as58 »

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #74 on: 02/07/2017 06:29 PM »
Sad news related to the mission: Neil Gehrels, WIRST project scientist and the PI of Swift mission died yesterday.
They might name WFIRST after him

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #75 on: 02/07/2017 07:03 PM »
Sad news related to the mission: Neil Gehrels, WIRST project scientist and the PI of Swift mission died yesterday.
 

Neil was a really nice guy. He worked on my recent study on NASA mission extensions. Always pleasant and soft-spoken.

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #76 on: 04/20/2017 09:12 PM »
Article includes a picture of the primary mirror assembly, first time I think we've seen that.

With an eye on growing cost, NASA aims for 2025 launch of next ‘great observatory’

Quote
NASA is currently looking at ULA’s Delta 4-Heavy or SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to send WFIRST into space, according to Dominic Bedford, the mission’s program scientist at NASA Headquarters.

Quote
NASA officials want to keep WFIRST’s total cost around $3.2 billion — in current-year economic conditions — and Bedford said the space agency could “descope” the mission by removing the coronagraph instrument if it looks like it will bust the budget cap.

“The coronagraph is not required for mission success, so we can back off the coronagraph if necessary,” Bedford said in the April 13 meeting of the NASA science advisory committee.

Multiple internal and external cost assessments will be completed in the coming months to inform NASA decision-makers on whether WFIRST should remain intact.

An cost assessment by the Aerospace Corp. in 2015 put WFIRST’s project cost between $2 billion and $2.3 billion. A report issued by the National Academy of Sciences last year said the cost of WFIRST had increased by $550 million since the Aerospace Corp. study, and the review panel recommended NASA slash the observatory’s capabilities, such as removing the coronagraph, if costs continued to grow.

Quote
“Budget is a big concern,” Bedford said. “The concern I’m mostly recognizing now is the overall mission cost of $3.2 billion. We have to make sure that we make the right choices to keep the science capability while keeping under that cost.

“The problem with mission design is you tend to have a function of science vs. cost that is steep,” Bedford said. “You lose more science than you lose cost.”

https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/04/19/with-an-eye-on-growing-cost-nasa-aims-for-2025-launch-of-next-great-observatory/

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #77 on: 04/21/2017 10:40 AM »
More photos of the mirror are available at https://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery-photos.html.

I wonder how the price tag has gone from $2.6B- $2.8B given in last year's decadal mid-term to $3.2B. It's not quite clear if both estimates include the same things, though. Slides from last week's NAC Science Committee meeting don't seem to be available yet.

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #78 on: 04/21/2017 11:22 AM »
More photos of the mirror are available at https://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery-photos.html.

I wonder how the price tag has gone from $2.6B- $2.8B given in last year's decadal mid-term to $3.2B. It's not quite clear if both estimates include the same things, though. Slides from last week's NAC Science Committee meeting don't seem to be available yet.

Isn't it the addition of the Coronagraph pushing the price tag up?

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #79 on: 04/21/2017 12:24 PM »
More photos of the mirror are available at https://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery-photos.html.

I wonder how the price tag has gone from $2.6B- $2.8B given in last year's decadal mid-term to $3.2B. It's not quite clear if both estimates include the same things, though. Slides from last week's NAC Science Committee meeting don't seem to be available yet.

Isn't it the addition of the Coronagraph pushing the price tag up?

Yes, but I believe that was already included in the previous cost estimate.

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #80 on: 04/21/2017 01:14 PM »
More photos of the mirror are available at https://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery-photos.html.

I wonder how the price tag has gone from $2.6B- $2.8B given in last year's decadal mid-term to $3.2B. It's not quite clear if both estimates include the same things, though. Slides from last week's NAC Science Committee meeting don't seem to be available yet.

Isn't it the addition of the Coronagraph pushing the price tag up?

Yes, but I believe that was already included in the previous cost estimate.

Do you think they'll end up having to remove it to keep the project within a reasonable cost level?

Offline vjkane

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #81 on: 04/21/2017 02:53 PM »
Do you think they'll end up having to remove it to keep the project within a reasonable cost level?
I think that they are sending a clear message to the science and engineering teams that NASA intends to keep this mission within its cost cap.

Offline Star One

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Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #82 on: 04/21/2017 02:54 PM »
Do you think they'll end up having to remove it to keep the project within a reasonable cost level?
I think that they are sending a clear message to the science and engineering teams that NASA intends to keep this mission within its cost cap.

So keep the costs down or lose the Coronagraph is the message.
« Last Edit: 04/21/2017 02:55 PM by Star One »

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #83 on: 04/21/2017 05:22 PM »
Decadal midterm review also stressed the importance of keeping cost under control. The current version of WFIRST is ~$1B more expensive than the original pre-NRO-donation concept, which was sort of flagship-lite mission. So if there's further cost growth, it could definitely distort decadal priorities.

Online jgoldader

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #84 on: 04/21/2017 05:34 PM »
While unwelcome, such cost growth isn't uncommon when you're pushing the envelope.  Look at JWST, or even Hubble.  A solution that looks doable on paper might not survive the first batch of tests, so you've got to try something more complex and expensive.  In the case of WFIRST, if your mirror suddenly gets bigger, your whole spacecraft gets bigger, and your cooling loads get worse*, and then you're also supposed to image planets, and, and, and...

That said, I'd hate to lose the coronagraph and ability to do formation flying with an occulting mask, but I suspect at least the latter is going to be lost, if it's not already. 

*not implying this is a problem, just illustrating how a change here affects something there
« Last Edit: 04/21/2017 05:35 PM by jgoldader »
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Offline chirata

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #85 on: 04/21/2017 06:34 PM »
More photos of the mirror are available at https://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery-photos.html.

I wonder how the price tag has gone from $2.6B- $2.8B given in last year's decadal mid-term to $3.2B. It's not quite clear if both estimates include the same things, though. Slides from last week's NAC Science Committee meeting don't seem to be available yet.

The $2.6-2.8B in the mid-decadal assessment is in FY15 dollars, the $3.2B is measured in the year those funds are spent.

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #86 on: 04/21/2017 06:42 PM »
More photos of the mirror are available at https://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery-photos.html.

I wonder how the price tag has gone from $2.6B- $2.8B given in last year's decadal mid-term to $3.2B. It's not quite clear if both estimates include the same things, though. Slides from last week's NAC Science Committee meeting don't seem to be available yet.

The $2.6-2.8B in the mid-decadal assessment is in FY15 dollars, the $3.2B is measured in the year those funds are spent.

Ah, so it takes into account several years of inflation. I guessed the new cost wasn't in FY15 dollars, but the difference seemed surprisingly large.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #87 on: 04/25/2017 05:52 PM »
That said, I'd hate to lose the coronagraph and ability to do formation flying with an occulting mask, but I suspect at least the latter is going to be lost, if it's not already.
Could the coronagraph equipment/instrument(s) be allocated for provision by another, international space agency?  Or the occulting mask?

I know that route has its own perils (ex: ESA, the original HST solar panels, and the thermal vibration issues), but it could cut NASA costs, and preserve a very interesting capability.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 09:24 PM by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #88 on: 04/28/2017 09:15 PM »
This seems a sensible move considering the time and cost involved.

NASA Taking a Fresh Look at Next Generation Space Telescope Plans
NASA is initiating an independent, external review over the next several months on the scope of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project to help ensure it would provide compelling scientific capability with an appropriate, affordable cost and a reliable schedule.
 
“Developing large space missions is difficult,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is the right time for us to pause for an independent look at our plans to make sure we understand how long it will take, and how much it will cost, to build WFIRST.”
 
WFIRST is NASA’s next large space telescope under development, after the James Webb Space Telescope that is launching in 2018.
 
NASA has launched a series of large space telescopes over the past 27 years, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. In addition to being among the most productive science facilities ever built, all of these space telescopes share something else: They were all top recommendations of a National Academy of Sciences’ Decadal Survey for Astronomy and Astrophysics.
 
WFIRST, the top priority of the most recent Decadal Survey in 2010, would be as sensitive as the Hubble Space Telescope, but have 100 times its field of view; every WFIRST image would be like 100 Hubble images. It also would feature a demonstration instrument capable of directly detecting the reflected light from planets orbiting stars beyond the sun. Using these capabilities, WFIRST would study the dark energy that is driving the accelerating expansion of the universe, complete the demographic survey of planets orbiting other stars, answer questions about how galaxies and groups of galaxies form, study the atmospheres and compositions of planets orbiting other stars, and address other general astrophysics questions.
 
Recently, the National Academies conducted a midterm assessment of NASA’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2010 Decadal Survey. The Midterm Assessment Report recognized the continued compelling science value of WFIRST, finding that, “WFIRST [is] an ambitious and powerful facility that will significantly advance the scientific program envisioned by [the Decadal Survey], from the atmospheres of planets around nearby stars to the physics of the accelerating universe.”
 
The agency initiated the WFIRST project in 2016, beginning the formulation phase of the mission. Recognizing that cost growth in the planned WFIRST project could impact the balance of projects and research investigations across NASA’s astrophysics portfolio, the Midterm Assessment Report recommended that prior to proceeding to the next phase of the WFIRST project, “NASA should commission an independent technical, management, and cost assessment of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, including a quantitative assessment of the incremental cost of the coronagraph.”
 
NASA conducted an analogous independent review of the James Webb Space Telescope, but conducted it later in its development lifetime. That review resulted in a replan of the Webb development project in 2011, and the Webb project has remained within the replan cost and schedule ever since.
 
“NASA is a learning organization,” said Zurbuchen. “We are applying lessons we learned from Webb on WFIRST. “By conducting this review now, we can define the best way forward for this mission and the astrophysics community at large, in accordance with the academy guidance.”
 
The review panel members will be senior engineers, scientists, and project managers mostly from outside NASA who are independent of the WFIRST project. NASA will begin the review process after filling the review panel membership during the next few weeks. The panel is expected to complete its review and submit a report outlining its findings and recommendations within approximately two months. NASA intends to incorporate these recommendations into its design and plans for WFIRST before proceeding with development of the mission.

Offline Bynaus

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #89 on: 05/01/2017 06:16 PM »
https://arxiv.org/abs/1704.08749

Quote
The Demographics of Rocky Free-Floating Planets and Their Detectability by WFIRST

Planets are thought to form via accretion from a remnant disk of gas and solids around a newly formed star. During this process material in the disk either remains bound to the star as part of a either a planet, a smaller celestial body, or makes up part of the the interplanetary medium; falls into the star; or is ejected from the system. Herein we use dynamical models to probe the abundance and properties of ejected material during late stage planet formation and estimate their contribution to the free-floating planet population. We present 300 N-body simulations of terrestrial planet formation around a solar-type star, with and without giant planets present, using a model that accounts for collisional fragmentation. In simulations with Jupiter and Saturn analogs present, about one-third of the initial (~5 Mearth) disk mass is ejected, about half in planets more massive than Mercury but less than than 0.3 Mearth, and the remainder in smaller bodies. Most ejections occur within 25 Myr, which is shorter than the timescale typically required for Earth-mass planets to grow (30-100 Myr). When giant planets are omitted from our simulations, almost no material is ejected within 200 Myr and only about 1% of the initial disk is ejected by 2 Gyr. We show that about 2.5 terrestrial-mass planets are ejected per star in the Galaxy. We predict that the space-borne microlensing search for free-floating planets from the Wide-Field Infra-Red Space Telescope (WFIRST) will discover up to 15 Mars-mass planets, but few free-floating Earth-mass planets.

This was quite surprising to me - that WFIRST might discover Mars-mass planets (or planetary mass objects) in interstellar space (i.e., free-floaters)! Discoveries would be via microlensing though, so unlikely to be near-by.

Offline plutogno

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #90 on: 06/06/2017 06:01 PM »
NASA’s dark-energy probe faces cost crisis
http://www.nature.com/articles/n-12339962

Offline Archibald

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #91 on: 06/06/2017 07:06 PM »
So much for saving some bucks reusing those NRO spacecrafts...

Offline matthewkantar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #92 on: 06/06/2017 07:08 PM »
To be fair, the hand me down mirror offers more performance, if not cost savings.

Matthew

Offline Star One

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Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #93 on: 06/06/2017 07:17 PM »
NASA’s dark-energy probe faces cost crisis
http://www.nature.com/articles/n-12339962

That article just recycles material concerning the rising costs of this project already posted in this thread sometime back.
« Last Edit: 06/06/2017 07:17 PM by Star One »

Online Chris Bergin

Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #94 on: 06/12/2017 06:09 PM »

Ball Aerospace Completes WFIRST Study for NASA
Ball Leverages Deep Heritage to Help Architect the Next Astrophysics Flagship Mission in Follow-on to Hubble, Spitzer and James Webb Space Telescopes

BOULDER, Colo., June 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Ball Aerospace today announced it has completed a six-month Phase A study of the scientific and technology requirements for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project's Wide Field Instrument (WFI). WFIRST will be NASA's next flagship space telescope under development and will follow NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

"Ball is honored to have participated in the Wide Field Instrument Phase A Study, where we were able to leverage our successful experience from many astrophysics, planetary and Earth scientific instruments," said Jim Oschmann, Ball Aerospace vice president and general manager, civil space business unit. "We welcome the opportunity to continue our heritage of working on NASA's great observatories and in helping scientists answer fundamental questions about our place in the universe."

WFIRST, the top priority of the most recent Decadal Survey in 2010, would bring the ability to capture individual images with the depth and quality of the Hubble Space Telescope, while covering 100 times the area. Among its scientific objectives, WFIRST will enable scientists to answer questions about how galaxies and groups of galaxies form, study the atmospheres and compositions of planets orbiting other stars, and address other general astrophysics questions.

NASA has launched a series of large space telescopes over nearly 30 years, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Together, these four space telescopes are known as the Great Observatories. Each was recommended by a National Academy of Sciences' Decadal Survey for Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Ball played a crucial role in each of them. For example, Ball built seven science instruments for Hubble, and each of the five science instruments currently operating on the telescope were Ball designed and built. Ball also built the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) that helped correct Hubble's hazy vision.

Ball worked with Northrop Grumman to design and build the advanced optical components and cryogenic electronics system for NASA's next Decadal mission, the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2018.

Ball has been involved with each Decadal mission since the 1970s, and supports the upcoming 2020 Decadal study by contributing to the Large Mission Concept Studies.   

Ball Aerospace pioneers discoveries that enable our customers to perform beyond expectation and protect what matters most.  We create innovative space solutions, enable more accurate weather forecasts, drive insightful observations of our planet, deliver actionable data and intelligence, and ensure those who defend our freedom go forward bravely and return home safely. For more information, visit www.ball.com/aerospace or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Ball Corporation supplies innovative, sustainable packaging solutions for beverage, food and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 18,450 people worldwide and 2016 net sales were $9.1 billion. For more information, visit www.ball.com, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Offline Star One

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Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #95 on: 06/23/2017 08:01 PM »
NASA begins independent review of WFIRST mission

Quote
The committee is co-chaired by Peter Michelson, the chair of the physics department at Stanford University who has worked on high-energy astrophysics missions such as Fermi; and Orlando Figueroa, a retired NASA official whose career included serving as deputy director of the Goddard Space Flight Center and director of NASA’s Mars exploration program. The other members include a mix of scientists, engineers and program managers.

“We are confident this review will provide the insight and confidence among key stakeholders necessary to move toward what promises to be an exciting science investigation bound to reshape our understanding of the universe,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said in a statement announcing the membership of the review panel.

http://spacenews.com/nasa-begins-independent-review-of-wfirst-mission/
« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 08:04 PM by Star One »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #96 on: 06/24/2017 12:14 AM »
I believe that there is also an independent cost estimate of WFIRST being done. The caveat is that they are in Phase A, and normally a cost estimate is done at a later point. So this cost estimate has to be taken with some salt.

Offline plutogno

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #97 on: 07/21/2017 03:32 AM »
and a letter to Nature by Thomas Zurbuchen: NASA: No cost crisis for space telescope

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v547/n7663/full/547281b.html


Quote
Your report on NASA's next large space telescope, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), misleadingly implies that NASA's dark-energy probe faces a cost crisis (Nature 546, 195; 2017). NASA has not yet completed the work of estimating the costs of the mission and is not facing funding difficulties, let alone a crisis.

At the recommendation of the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, NASA is convening an independent technical, management and cost review of WFIRST. The purpose is to ensure that the mission's scope and cost are correctly aligned at this early stage, so that we can proceed with assurance to realize the scientific goals without overspending.

This review was recommended by the National Academies in 2014 and again in 2016, and is not motivated by the mission's current status. We are confident that the review will contribute to the successful development of a breakthrough mission that will reshape our understanding of dark energy, exoplanets and the Milky Way.

Offline hop

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #98 on: 07/21/2017 06:34 AM »
That letter is remarkable in how little of the original article it actually addresses.

Quote
NASA has not yet completed the work of estimating the costs of the mission and is not facing funding difficulties, let alone a crisis.
Nothing in the article suggested that WFIRST was currently short of funds.

Offline Star One

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #99 on: 08/09/2017 05:18 PM »
Quote
NASA has turned a lot of heads in recent years thanks to its New Worlds Mission concept – aka. Starshade. Consisting of a giant flower-shaped occulter, this proposed spacecraft is intended to be deployed alongside a space telescope (most likely the James Webb Space Telescope). It will then block the glare of distant stars, creating an artificial eclipse to make it easier to detect and study planets orbiting them.

The only problem is, this concept is expected to cost a pretty penny – an estimated $750 million to $3 billion at this point! Hence why Stanford Professor Simone D’Amico (with the help of exoplanet expert Bruce Macintosh) is proposing a scaled down version of the concept to demonstrate its effectiveness. Known as mDot, this occulter will do the same job, but at a fraction of the cost.

Quote
As such, D’Amico – an assistant professor and the head of the Space Rendezvous Laboratory (SRL) at Stanford – and and Bruce Macintosh (a Stanford professor of physics) teamed up to create a smaller version called the Miniaturized Distributed Occulter/Telescope (mDOT). The primary purpose of mDOT is to provide a low-cost flight demonstration of the technology, in the hopes of increasing confidence in a full-scale mission.

Quote
Consisting of two parts, the mDOT system takes advantage of recent developments in miniaturization and small satellite (smallsat) technology. The first is a 100-kg microsatellite that is equipped with a 3-meter diameter starshade. The second is a 10-kg nanosatellite that carries a telescope measuring 10 cm (3.937 in) in diameter. Both components will be deployed in high Earth orbit with a nominal separation of less than 1,000 kilometers (621 mi).

With the help of colleagues from the SRL, the shape of mDOT’s starshade was reformulated to fit the constraints of a much smaller spacecraft. As Koenig explained, this scaled down and specially-designed starshade will be able to do the same job as the large-scale, flower-shaped version – and on a budget!

https://www.universetoday.com/136697/standford-team-creates-mdot-mini-starshade-exoplanet-research/

Offline meberbs

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #100 on: 08/09/2017 06:52 PM »
That letter is remarkable in how little of the original article it actually addresses.

Quote
NASA has not yet completed the work of estimating the costs of the mission and is not facing funding difficulties, let alone a crisis.
Nothing in the article suggested that WFIRST was currently short of funds.
I don't think the title of the article counts as "little." That sentence you quoted refers directly to the title of the article. Of course the article doesn't actually support the title if you only look at the facts. The article does carry on the general tone of the title though, implying that a review to make sure cost and scope are in alignment is not a standard part of early project development. Every engineering project needs to balance cost, schedule, and scope.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #101 on: 08/09/2017 10:55 PM »
implying that a review to make sure cost and scope are in alignment is not a standard part of early project development. Every engineering project needs to balance cost, schedule, and scope.

For the past seven years or so, NASA has been pretty good at keeping its science missions on cost and schedule. But nobody has forgotten JWST, and I think that it is entirely prudent for NASA to want to make sure that its next large telescope project after JWST is carefully evaluated early on. So this review really isn't all that surprising.

Offline Khadgars

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #102 on: 08/09/2017 11:16 PM »
This is a fundamental problem with our funding approach - if you price something at what it's going to cost, it'll never get funded.  If you price it to get funded, you're going to get criticized - or cut - when it ends up costing what it actually costs.

Except your phrasing assumes that it is easy to know what something is going to cost. It's not. These are estimates based upon a lot of unknowns, with a lot of assumptions and large error bars.

Disavow yourself of the belief that everybody is lying and deceitful and just trying to get something approved so that they can blow the budget later. I realize that's the stereotype, but the real world is not so clear-cut. This is a complicated and iterative process, meaning that they estimate, they proceed, then they estimate again. There are ways to improve the accuracy of that process, but it's not possible to create an entirely accurate estimate of costs for many of these things. (Oh, and it is the same way in business too, they just don't air their dirty laundry.)

Also, cost is an important factor, but it is not the only factor, nor is it necessarily the most important factor. That's true in everyday life too. If it wasn't, then everybody would drive only inexpensive cars.

I know this was posted at the beginning of the year, but well said Blackstar.  One of my favorite posts.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #103 on: 08/10/2017 01:23 AM »
In another week I'll be able to post more about the cost estimation issue. I know it's the kind of thing that makes people roll their eyes or fall asleep, but if you're interested in programs getting done effectively, and you want to see the most happen (i.e. the best bang for your buck), then it helps to have a basic understanding of how this stuff is done and what are the latest developments.

Offline hop

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #104 on: 08/10/2017 04:06 AM »
I don't think the title of the article counts as "little." That sentence you quoted refers directly to the title of the article.
It refers to a misinterpretation of the title which should be very obvious to anyone who read the article.

Quoting from the article
Quote
The new study will help NASA evaluate how to preserve as much of WFIRST’s scientific capability as possible while remaining within budget, says John Gagosian, the mission’s programme executive at NASA headquarters in Washington DC. But he sees no reasonable scenario “in which the current mission scope and requirements (including the coronagraph) can be implemented for $3.2 billion or less”.
(my bold)
In other words, there's significant reason to believe NASA can't do all the things it wants to do with the amount of money it wants to spend. It should be clear this is the "cost crisis" identified in the title. Losing the coronagraph for example would be a major setback.

You can argue the headline is sensationalized, but it's very clearly referring to the apparent trajectory of the programs cost and requirements, not some current overrun.

To rebut this, Zurbuchen states
Quote
NASA has not yet completed the work of estimating the costs of the mission and is not facing funding difficulties, let alone a crisis.
Technically true, but the crisis rebutted bears no resemblance to the one described. Worse, it implies the author made an egregious factual error (a cost overrun on a program that hasn't even been funded!) that they did not.

From the article:
Quote
Last August, a review of NASA’s progress towards its 2010 decadal priorities singled out WFIRST as at risk of ballooning costs.
(my bold again)

And from Zurbuchen
Quote
This review was recommended by the National Academies in 2014 and again in 2016, and is not motivated by the mission's current status.
No doubt technically true, but clearly avoiding the fact that WFIRST was singled out for concern by the last review, and subject to concern by others involved.

Offline meberbs

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #105 on: 08/10/2017 02:43 PM »
I don't think the title of the article counts as "little." That sentence you quoted refers directly to the title of the article.
It refers to a misinterpretation of the title which should be very obvious to anyone who read the article.
There is simply not a crisis of any sort whatsoever, so rebutting the typical understanding of "cost crisis" seems like the appropriate response.

In other words, there's significant reason to believe NASA can't do all the things it wants to do with the amount of money it wants to spend. It should be clear this is the "cost crisis" identified in the title. Losing the coronagraph for example would be a major setback.
Scientists can't do everything they want because of cost constraints? That is simply a fact of life. There are multiple ways to deal with this even if this is the case. I have no idea how or why you are jumping to the "lose the coronagraph" scenario. Also the coronagraph was an addition, not part of the original mission proposal, so calling losing a bonus feature (however useful) a "major setback" doesn't make sense.

You can argue the headline is sensationalized, but it's very clearly referring to the apparent trajectory of the programs cost and requirements, not some current overrun.
To rebut this, Zurbuchen states
Quote
NASA has not yet completed the work of estimating the costs of the mission and is not facing funding difficulties, let alone a crisis.
Technically true, but the crisis rebutted bears no resemblance to the one described. Worse, it implies the author made an egregious factual error (a cost overrun on a program that hasn't even been funded!) that they did not.
It is beyond sensationalized, and is flat out wrong. The use of the would crisis in any sense except "no crisis" is wrong. Specifically referring to a cost crisis when the cost estimation hasn't even been completed doesn't even make sense, and you are now talking about the "apparent trajectory" of a program that is still too early to do any reasonable estimate of its overall performance.

From the article:
Quote
Last August, a review of NASA’s progress towards its 2010 decadal priorities singled out WFIRST as at risk of ballooning costs.
(my bold again)

And from Zurbuchen
Quote
This review was recommended by the National Academies in 2014 and again in 2016, and is not motivated by the mission's current status.
No doubt technically true, but clearly avoiding the fact that WFIRST was singled out for concern by the last review, and subject to concern by others involved.
How is it avoiding the issue when they are clearly pointing out that the review was recommended twice?

It is a large program, and all large programs are at risk of spiraling costs if they aren't carefully managed. NASA is clearly countering the implication by the article that the review is based on something specific to this program, rather than dealing with typical planning and scope creep that happens on all programs of this size. It was "singled out" for being a large program.

If you go look at the reasons stated for requesting the review (summary here) you will see that the recommendation was simply to review scope creep to make sure that the benefits are worth the associated costs.

Offline as58

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #106 on: 08/10/2017 04:09 PM »
It is beyond sensationalized, and is flat out wrong. The use of the would crisis in any sense except "no crisis" is wrong. Specifically referring to a cost crisis when the cost estimation hasn't even been completed doesn't even make sense, and you are now talking about the "apparent trajectory" of a program that is still too early to do any reasonable estimate of its overall performance.

Tangentially related to this, the Nature News article also repeats the story of JWST cost growing from $1 billion to current $8.8 billion, but that's not really a fair comparison. That $1 billion was not a real cost estimate, just some sort of notional 'cost wish' and when JWST was approved, it was clear that the price tag was going to be much higher. Sure, even after that JWST has gone through huge cost growth (IIRC the cost estimate before moving to phase C was close to $4 billion), but it's not quite as ridiculous as some stories make it sound.


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #107 on: 08/10/2017 05:50 PM »
Tangentially related to this, the Nature News article also repeats the story of JWST cost growing from $1 billion to current $8.8 billion, but that's not really a fair comparison. That $1 billion was not a real cost estimate, just some sort of notional 'cost wish' and when JWST was approved, it was clear that the price tag was going to be much higher. Sure, even after that JWST has gone through huge cost growth (IIRC the cost estimate before moving to phase C was close to $4 billion), but it's not quite as ridiculous as some stories make it sound.

I agree with all this. But there's a big "however" in this story, and that also provides an important lesson for all large missions that start out in decadal surveys, not just astronomy ones, but the other science divisions as well.

The "however" is how those early estimates were generated. There's a lot of finger-pointing about this. The astronomers say that NASA gave them that original cost estimate and told them to use it. Some NASA people say that it was the astronomers who put a low-balled estimate in their decadal survey and said "do this mission." Hopefully somebody has interviewed the participants and asked about how this happened. But one result of all that was that Congress then required an independent pseudo-cost estimation process for the decadal surveys to serve as a sort of sanity check on the missions that were being considered. That became the Cost And Technical Evaluation (CATE) process. It is not perfect, for lots of reasons. But the powers that be determined that it was necessary in order to box in the costs and not simply accept the costs produced by mission advocates (even if those advocates were in NASA themselves--one of the most guilty culprits in lowballing JWST was the NASA administrator at the time).

The bigger issue is one that is somewhat difficult to describe, but it comes down to this: the scientific community prioritizes large missions based upon a very preliminary cost estimate, and they make assumptions about the rest of their portfolio of other things (smaller missions, research and analysis funding, etc.) based upon that preliminary cost estimate. But then NASA initiates a mission and only much later (usually years later) discovers that the cost of that mission is going to be much greater than what everybody thought when they produced the decadal survey. Now if NASA goes ahead with that expensive mission--and usually it is impossible to stop it at that point--then that much costlier mission can do a lot of damage to the rest of the portfolio, damage that the scientific community never would have agreed to in the first place.

So how do you deal with that? Well, the typical NASA response is by introducing processes for checking up on those issues at multiple points. One of those processes is to go back to the National Academies that produced the decadal survey and say "The mission was originally costed at $X, and now it costs $X+1. Is it still worth doing that mission?" That's sorta what you have seen with WFIRST, with NASA asking the astronomy community several times "Do you really want this mission?" Another process can be done at the decadal survey stage itself, when a decadal survey introduces decision rules concerning cost. You saw that with the last planetary decadal survey, which clearly stated that NASA should not pursue the Mars caching rover if it cost more than $2.5 billion. Notably, NASA has sought to keep the cost at $2.4 billion. Another decision rule was to de-scope the Europa orbiter mission to make it more affordable.

Note that this is not a perfect system. One of the reasons is that large missions gather momentum fast, so it is unlikely that a group of scientists is going to say "We changed our minds and that big thing is no longer worth it." Most likely what they will say is "That big thing is still important, but keep costs under control by doing A, B and C." Not a perfect system, but there are no perfect systems.

NASA has gotten better at all of this for a bunch of reasons. Like I said, I'll be able to share more about this later.


Offline Kansan52

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #108 on: 08/10/2017 06:11 PM »
Thank you. An excellent lesson. It allows a much better perspective on this issues. At least for me!!

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #109 on: 08/11/2017 01:44 AM »
So wait... did anybody ask about the CATE process? Sure, you want to know about that.

CATE stands for Cost And Technical Evaluation, and so far The Aerospace Corporation has done this for all the decadal surveys since 2010. One of the key things to understand about CATE is that it is not simply an independent cost estimate. It also includes a technical evaluation of the proposal--meaning determining how mature the technology is. And it includes the "threats" to the program based upon historical data.

This latter point is really hard for people to understand, but it goes something like this: you can do an independent cost estimate of how much a space mission will cost, and that estimate is going to include an error budget. It's going to take into account that you cannot predict exactly what something will cost, but you can get close. But that is based upon the assumption that you are totally in control of the mission and only you affect the outcome.

And it turns out that the real world does not work like that. All kinds of external factors can affect the cost. You can be a total trooper and do everything right, and then Congress comes along and gives you 20% less money than you need one year and that blows your budget to smithereens. Not your fault, for sure, but it does affect the final cost of the mission, driving it up. The CATE process attempts to take that into account, and the result is that the CATE estimate is always going to be higher than an independent cost estimate that does not make that assumption. This makes a lot of mission advocates angry, because they look at the high CATE estimate and they say "That's not legit! That's too high! I can build the spacecraft for a lot less than that!" And in fact, the advocate may be able to do that, but not always. And for planning purposes, you want to budget what you are most likely going to need, not an overly optimistic estimate.

The criticism of the CATE is that it is preventing good missions from getting approved because they're being ruled out early because of their high costs, which is really only an educated guess. Well, although there's some validity to that criticism, you have to remember two things: 1-the CATE was introduced because a couple of projects (JWST and MSL/Curiosity) went way over-budget and sucked money out of adjacent programs and that was bad, and 2-the decadal surveys are aware of this and they consider it when they make their recommendations. The best example I am familiar with is the planetary decadal's New Frontiers proposal for a comet cryogenic sample return mission. When we did the CATE for that, it came in rather high (I think it was something like $1.3 billion). That was $300 million over our New Frontiers recommended cost cap of $1 billion. But we still included that mission in New Frontiers, because we thought that there is a reasonable possibility that somebody could propose a mission that comes in under the cost cap, and we were willing to let them try.

Offline hop

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #110 on: 08/11/2017 04:17 AM »
I have no idea how or why you are jumping to the "lose the coronagraph" scenario.
Based on a direct quote from the NASA program executive which suggests that is a likely outcome. Notably, Zurbuchen's rebuttal didn't dispute that statement, or indeed address it at all.
Quote
Also the coronagraph was an addition, not part of the original mission proposal, so calling losing a bonus feature (however useful) a "major setback" doesn't make sense.
Depends what you mean by "original". It wasn't part of the original decadal recommendation, but it has been part of the baseline mission being developed by NASA since 2015 (though considered descopable)

Quoting from New Worlds, New Horizons: A Midterm Assessment

Quote
At NASA’s direction, the 2015 SDT report adopted the coronagraph as a (descopable) part of the baseline WFIRST-AFTA mission, rather than an optional addition, and adopted a 6-year prime mission lifetime.

The report also notes that addition of the coronagraph helped the mission gain congressional and community support. The public and congress are a lot more excited about exoplanets than cosmology, and a lot of astronomers are excited about them too.

Quote
It was "singled out" for being a large program.
The review was recommended specifically in response to how WFIRST has evolved into a much higher risk concept than the one in the decadal, not for being large.

I noted Zurbuchen's statement omitted important context. It appears those omissions may have lead you to incorrect conclusions.

Offline Nomadd

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #111 on: 08/11/2017 06:01 AM »
 I miss JIMO.

Offline meberbs

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #112 on: 08/11/2017 02:20 PM »
I have no idea how or why you are jumping to the "lose the coronagraph" scenario.
Based on a direct quote from the NASA program executive which suggests that is a likely outcome. Notably, Zurbuchen's rebuttal didn't dispute that statement, or indeed address it at all.
No, the quote only says that he expects the cost with coronograph to exceed $3.2 billion, jumping to "lose the coronograph" is entirely on you.

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It was "singled out" for being a large program.
The review was recommended specifically in response to how WFIRST has evolved into a much higher risk concept than the one in the decadal, not for being large.
As I said: scope creep. If you have an example of a large program that didn't suffer from this please share.

Also, you have not addressed my main point and the apparent main point of the response to the article: claiming there is a "cost crisis" is simply wrong.

Offline hop

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #113 on: 08/11/2017 10:02 PM »
No, the quote only says that he expects the cost with coronograph to exceed $3.2 billion, jumping to "lose the coronograph" is entirely on you.
The jump from that number to concluding the coronograph is at serious risk is very small, because it has to square with recommendation 4-1 in the report. Or NASA has to ignore the recommendation and cannibalize the rest of the astro budget.

Really, read the whole WFIRST chapter, it's a fascinating and complicated story.
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Also, you have not addressed my main point and the apparent main point of the response to the article: claiming there is a "cost crisis" is simply wrong.
Whether it merits the word "crisis" is subjective, but IMHO it's pretty clear that the WFIRST concept that NASA  developed and sold to Congress and the community over the last few years is in trouble. Hopefully they will find a way to keep it on track with a minimum of pain.

Offline Kesarion

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #114 on: 09/04/2017 08:34 AM »
https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1452/nasa-team-passes-major-technological-milestone-for-characterizing-exoplanets/

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NASA team passes major technological milestone for characterizing exoplanets

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Working in concert with the coronagraph, an integral field spectrograph, or IFS, such as PISCES, would be able to separate the exoplanet’s light by its wavelength and record the data, revealing details about the planet’s physical properties, including the chemical composition and structure of its atmosphere.

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“We are not done yet and are still trying to get to higher contrasts, but the 100 million-to-one over 18 percent of the optical wavelength band is an important and significant milestone,” said Maxime Rizzo, a postdoctoral student who is working with McElwain and his team to advance PISCES. “With the increased bandpass, we can get many colors at once. This enables us to identify more molecules in the atmospheres and get a big picture.”

Offline hop

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Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #115 on: 09/11/2017 06:08 AM »
Solar System science with the Wide-Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST)

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We present a community-led assessment of the capabilities of NASA's Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) for Solar System science. WFIRST will provide imaging and spectroscopic capabilities from 0.6-2.0 μm and will be a potential contemporary and eventual successor to JWST. Observations of asteroids, the giant planets and their satellites, Kuiper Belt Objects, and comets will be possible through both the Guest Investigator (GI) and Guest Observer (GO) programs. Surveys of minor bodies and time domain studies of variable surfaces and atmospheres are uniquely well-suited for WFIRST with its 0.28 deg2 field of view. Previous use of astrophysics assets for Solar System science and synergies between WFIRST, LSST, and JWST are discussed. We also provide a list of proposed minor modifications to the mission, including non-sidereal tracking of 30 mas/s and a K-band filter (∼2.0-2.4 μm).


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