Author Topic: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program  (Read 3772 times)

Offline catdlr

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RELEASE : 13-088
April 05, 2013
 
NASA Selects Explorer Investigations for Formulation
 
 
WASHINGTON -- NASA's Astrophysics Explorer Program has selected two missions for launch in 2017: a planet-hunting satellite and an International Space Station instrument to observe X-rays from stars.
 
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) were among four concept studies submitted in September 2012. NASA determined these two offer the best scientific value and most feasible development plans.

TESS will use an array of telescopes to perform an all-sky survey to discover transiting exoplanets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, in orbit around the nearest and brightest stars in the sky. Its goal is to identify terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of nearby stars. Its principal investigator is George Ricker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

NICER will be mounted on the space station and measure the variability of cosmic X-ray sources, a process called X-ray timing, to explore the exotic states of matter within neutron stars and reveal their interior and surface compositions. The principal investigator is Keith Gendreau of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"The Explorer Program has a long and stellar history of deploying truly innovative missions to study some of the most exciting questions in space science," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for science in Washington. "With these missions we will learn about the most extreme states of matter by studying neutron stars and we will identify many nearby star systems with rocky planets in the habitable zone for further study by telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope."

NASA's Explorer program is the agency's oldest continuous program and is designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space using principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the Science Mission Directorate’s astrophysics and heliophysics programs. Satellite mission costs are capped at $200 million and space station mission costs are capped at $55 million.

The program has launched more than 90 missions. It began in 1958 with the Explorer 1, which discovered the Earth’s radiation belts. Another Explorer mission, the Cosmic Background Explorer, led to a Nobel prize. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about the Explorer program, visit:

http://explorers.gsfc.nasa.gov


For information about NASA, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov


 
- end -
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #1 on: 04/06/2013 01:32 PM »
Wonder what launcher TESS will go on, I imagine an Atlas V would be far too much overkill. A launcher like Antares or the remaining Delta II maybe?

Offline baldusi

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #2 on: 04/08/2013 06:44 PM »
The chances that SpaceX gets the NICER launch are high :p

Offline arachnitect

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #3 on: 04/09/2013 05:48 AM »
Wonder what launcher TESS will go on, I imagine an Atlas V would be far too much overkill. A launcher like Antares or the remaining Delta II maybe?

More like Pegasus.

Offline TheMightyM

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #4 on: 04/09/2013 09:46 PM »
What's interesting here is what NASA didn't do, which is to select a second SMEX mission. In September NASA's 2011 announced it was funding conceptual studies on five possible SMEX missions ($200 million max budget) and five Mission of Opportunity  missions ($55 million max budget). The press release stated:

Quote
Following the detailed mission concept studies, NASA plans to select up to two of the Explorer Mission proposals and one or more of the five Mission of Opportunity proposals in February 2013. The missions would then proceed toward flight and some could launch by 2016.

Link: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-328_Science_Proposals.html

The thought at the time was that either TESS or another planet-hunting proposal would be one SMEX selection with the other three proposals, which all centered on the Ionosphere or ionized gases, were competing against themselves for the other selection. In the end there was no second selection. I would presume budget limits had a lot to do with that.

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #5 on: 04/10/2013 07:16 PM »
Wonder what launcher TESS will go on, I imagine an Atlas V would be far too much overkill. A launcher like Antares or the remaining Delta II maybe?

More like Pegasus.

Didn't realise it was going to be that compact a craft.

Offline arachnitect

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #6 on: 04/10/2013 07:49 PM »
Wonder what launcher TESS will go on, I imagine an Atlas V would be far too much overkill. A launcher like Antares or the remaining Delta II maybe?

More like Pegasus.

Didn't realise it was going to be that compact a craft.

Basically a cluster of digital cameras bolted to a LEOstar-2 bus. Some kind of weird orbit though which I haven't found the details of yet.

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #7 on: 04/10/2013 08:40 PM »
Wonder what launcher TESS will go on, I imagine an Atlas V would be far too much overkill. A launcher like Antares or the remaining Delta II maybe?

More like Pegasus.

Didn't realise it was going to be that compact a craft.

Basically a cluster of digital cameras bolted to a LEOstar-2 bus. Some kind of weird orbit though which I haven't found the details of yet.

I saw mention that it was going into an 'extremely elliptical orbit' which doesn't tell me much?

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #8 on: 09/17/2013 11:31 PM »
Wonder what launcher TESS will go on, I imagine an Atlas V would be far too much overkill. A launcher like Antares or the remaining Delta II maybe?

More like Pegasus.

Didn't realise it was going to be that compact a craft.

Basically a cluster of digital cameras bolted to a LEOstar-2 bus. Some kind of weird orbit though which I haven't found the details of yet.

I saw mention that it was going into an 'extremely elliptical orbit' which doesn't tell me much?

It will be a highly elliptical orbit of 17 × 59 Earth radii by using a perigee kick motor and a lunar flyby. Therefore a Pegasus-class launch can be ruled out.

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #9 on: 09/20/2013 06:54 AM »
Concerning the launch vehicle:

Although none has been selected by now, the baselined vehicles are Athena-2c or Taurus-XL with additional Star-37FM kick motor.

http://snebulos.mit.edu/projects/tess/file_cabinet/1/16001/16001_01_r01.pdf

Offline arachnitect

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #10 on: 09/21/2013 08:23 PM »
Concerning the launch vehicle:

Although none has been selected by now, the baselined vehicles are Athena-2c or Taurus-XL with additional Star-37FM kick motor.

http://snebulos.mit.edu/projects/tess/file_cabinet/1/16001/16001_01_r01.pdf

Maybe end up on Minotaur?

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: NASA Missions in 2017 for Astrophysics Explorer Program
« Reply #11 on: 09/22/2013 01:29 AM »
Concerning the launch vehicle:

Although none has been selected by now, the baselined vehicles are Athena-2c or Taurus-XL with additional Star-37FM kick motor.

http://snebulos.mit.edu/projects/tess/file_cabinet/1/16001/16001_01_r01.pdf

According to the PDF, the Athena-2c & Taurus-XL LV options pertains to minimum fairing size required by the TESS stack.

So maybe the Antares 130 or Falcon 9 ver 1.1 could also be candidates if their launch cost is close to or below that of the Athena-2c & Taurus-XL.

Also the Athena-2c might not come online.