NASA is exploring options for innovative and imaginative uses of two large space telescopes recently transferred to the agency. In a request for information (RFI) published Monday, NASA seeks information about system concepts and architectures that would take advantage of these assets to address NASA's goals in astrophysics, heliophysics, planetary sciences, and human spaceflight.
"Because there are two telescopes, there is room for projects that span the gamut of the imagination," said Michael Moore, a senior program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "They range from simple balloon flights to complex missions in science using new technologies under development and the capabilities available with the International Space Station and our commercial space flight partners."
The telescopes are equivalent to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in aperture, but designed to have a much wider field of view. They already are being studied for possible use as a wide field infrared survey observatory, which would address the top priority recommendation in the National Research Council's 2010 Astrophysics Decadal Survey. NASA is seeking alternative goals and unique approaches in order to expand the range of concepts for use of this capable hardware.
The RFI invites interested parties to provide an outline of their concept in enough detail for a next-step assessment by NASA as it prepares for future investments in diverse areas of science and technology. Respondents who submit the most interesting concepts will be invited to present their ideas at a workshop in Huntsville, Ala., in early February 2013.
"We will give all ideas equal consideration and choose the most promising for further study," said Marc Allen, acting deputy associate administrator for research in NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "We want to tap into innovative ideas wherever we can find them in order to optimize use of these telescope assets."
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