NASA looks at future astronomy missions

February 18, 2008

The U.S. space agency has selected 19 science teams to conduct year-long studies of new concepts for its next generation of major space observatories.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said every 10 years U.S. astronomers and physicists take part in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey in cooperation with the National Academy of Sciences. They produce directions that guide federal agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation in planning astronomy and astrophysics programs for the coming decade. "The exciting new astrophysics mission concept studies we are funding will seed preparations for astronomical space missions and paradigm-shifting discoveries across the early 21st century," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

The concept studies total approximately $12 million in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Some of the proposals explore a powerful new combination of telescopes and instruments optimized for observing the tenuous filaments of intergalactic hydrogen gas known as the cosmic web gas.

Another mission would place two laser beacons on Mars. Precise measurements of the distance to these beacons would provide the most stringent test yet of Einstein's theory of general relativity.

The studies' results are expected in March 2009.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Explore further: Measuring thermal expansion at low temperatures for future space missions

Related Stories

Results of the Rosetta mission before perihelion

October 30, 2015

Astronomy & Astrophysics is publishing a special feature of 46 articles that present the results obtained by the Rosetta mission before the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko reached its perihelion.

Swift spacecraft spots its thousandth gamma-ray burst

November 6, 2015

NASA's Swift spacecraft has detected its 1,000th gamma-ray burst (GRB). GRBs are the most powerful explosions in the universe, typically associated with the collapse of a massive star and the birth of a black hole.

Recommended for you

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...

Aging star's weight loss secret revealed

November 25, 2015

A team of astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope has captured the most detailed images ever of the hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris. These observations show how the unexpectedly large size of the particles of dust surrounding ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.