Author Topic: NASA's Astrophysics Small Explorer (SMEX): 2020 mission  (Read 3566 times)

Offline bolun

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NASA has selected three proposals, SPHEREx, IXPE and PRAXyS, for the SMEX mission that is expected to be launched not earlier than 2020.

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/multi/explorer.html

http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-selects-proposals-to-study-neutron-stars-black-holes-and-more

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SPHEREx: An All-Sky Near-Infrared Spectral Survey

James Bock, principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California
SPHEREx will perform an all-sky near infrared spectral survey to probe the origin of our Universe; explore the origin and evolution of galaxies, and explore whether planets around other stars could harbor life.

Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE)

Martin Weisskopf, principal investigator at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama
IXPE uses X-ray polarimetry, which is the measurement and interpretation of the polarization of electromagnetic waves, to improve our understanding of how X-ray emission is produced in objects such as neutron stars, pulsar wind nebulae, and stellar and supermassive black holes.

Polarimeter for Relativistic Astrophysical X-ray Sources (PRAXyS)

Keith Jahoda, principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
PRAXyS uses X-ray polarimetry to characterize the geometry and behavior of X-ray sources including super-massive black holes, pulsars, magnetars and supernovae.

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The proposals were selected based on potential science value and feasibility of development plans. The mission will be selected by 2017, after concept studies and detailed evaluations, to proceed with construction and launch, the earliest of which could be launched by 2020. Small Explorer mission costs are capped at $125 million each, excluding the launch vehicle ...

Each Astrophysics Small Explorer mission will receive $1 million to conduct an 11-month mission concept study.

Offline TheMightyM

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Re: NASA's Astrophysics Small Explorer (SMEX): 2020 mission
« Reply #1 on: 08/04/2015 03:55 PM »
Here’s a news story on the three proposals:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/08/03/nasa-picks-candidates-for-new-space-telescope/

A key point: “NASA has selected three finalists for a new Explorer-class astrophysics satellite mission scheduled to launch by the end of 2020, and two of the proposals aim to fulfill similar goals to an X-ray telescope shelved after cost overruns in 2012.” That cancelled X-ray telescope was of course GEMS; IXPE and PRAXyS are the proposals that would do what GEMS was aiming to do. Indeed, PRAXyS even reuses some of the design from GEMS.
« Last Edit: 08/04/2015 03:55 PM by TheMightyM »

Offline bolun

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« Last Edit: 09/12/2015 11:35 AM by bolun »

Offline bolun

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Re: NASA's Astrophysics Small Explorer (SMEX): 2020 mission
« Reply #3 on: 01/07/2017 02:55 PM »
Jan. 3, 2017

RELEASE 17-002

NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries

NASA has selected a science mission that will allow astronomers to explore, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most extreme and exotic astronomical objects, such as stellar and supermassive black holes, neutron stars and pulsars.

Objects such as black holes can heat surrounding gases to more than a million degrees. The high-energy X-ray radiation from this gas can be polarized – vibrating in a particular direction. The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission will fly three space telescopes with cameras capable of measuring the polarization of these cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about these turbulent and extreme environments where gravitational, electric and magnetic fields are at their limits.

“We cannot directly image what’s going on near objects like black holes and neutron stars, but studying the polarization of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments reveals the physics of these enigmatic objects,” said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “NASA has a great history of launching observatories in the Astrophysics Explorers Program with new and unique observational capabilities. IXPE will open a new window on the universe for astronomers to peer through. Today, we can only guess what we will find.”

NASA's Astrophysics Explorers Program requested proposals for new missions in September 2014. Fourteen proposals were submitted, and three mission concepts were selected for additional review by a panel of agency and external scientists. NASA determined the IXPE proposal provided the best science potential and most feasible development plan.

The mission, slated for launch in 2020, will cost $188 million. This figure includes the cost of the launch vehicle and post-launch operations and data analysis. Principal Investigator Martin Weisskopf of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will lead the mission. Ball Aerospace in Broomfield, Colorado, will provide the spacecraft and mission integration. The Italian Space Agency will contribute the polarization sensitive X-ray detectors, which were developed in Italy.

NASA's Explorers Program provides frequent, low-cost access to space using principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the agency’s astrophysics and heliophysics programs. The program has launched more than 90 missions, including Explorer 1 in 1958, which discovered the Van Allen radiation belts around the Earth, and the Cosmic Background Explorer mission, which led to a Nobel Prize. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the Explorers Program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-selects-mission-to-study-black-holes-cosmic-x-ray-mysteries

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