FUTURE MISSION CONCEPT STUDIES SELECTED
19 proposals have been selected for new innovative mission concepts in
space physics. The 19 were selected from 70 proposals submitted in response
to a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) released in February 1996, which
solicited proposals for mission concept studies for missions that could be
ready to start between 1999 and 2005.
The selected studies are listed below with the name of the Principal
Investigator, Institution and a brief description of the mission concept.
- A Low Cost Mercury Orbiter Mission -- Daniel N. Baker, University of
Colorado, Boulder -- This mission would carry out a comprehensive
investigation of the plasma and magnetic field environment, the atmosphere,
and the surface of Mercury by applying recent advances in spacecraft and
instrument miniaturization and innovative propulsion systems.
- STEREO: A Solar-Terrestrial Event Observer -- Guenter E. Brueckner,
Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC -- This mission would provide
stereo and 3-D images of the heliosphere and of the Earth's magnetosphere
using three spacecraft (one in Earth orbit and two in orbit around the
Sun) and advanced image processing techniques.
- Study for an Auroral Multi-Probe Satellite Mission (AMPS) -- Cynthia A.
Cattell, University of Minnesota -- This mission would enable the
exploration and understanding of structural and dynamic features of auroral
acceleration using three nearly identical spacecraft in nearly identical
orbits. The use of the three spacecraft will allow the separation of
temporal and spatial variations parallel and perpendicular to the magnetic
field over a range of spatial scales.
- Development of a Radio Tomography Mission for Investigation of the
Earth's Magnetosphere -- Robert E. Ergun, University of California,
Berkeley -- This mission would produce two dimensional high resolution
images of the Earth's magnetosphere using radio tomography (like a CAT scan
of the Earth's magnetosphere) using sixteen small 30 kg satellites,
launched by a single launch vehicle, into orbit around the Earth.
- Solar Bolometric Imager -- Peter V. Foukal, Cambridge Research &
Instrumentation, Inc. -- A Small Explorer-class mission that would examine
how the solar irradiance between 0.25 and 5 microns, which affects Earth's
climate directly, varies over the solar surface and would provide insight
into the causes of this "Sun-Earth Connection". The small 25 cm diameter
telescope would utilize recent technology advances in uncooled infrared
detector arrays developed by the DOD modified with a special coating to
allow uniform response over the wavelength range required.
- High Resolution X-ray Explorer (HIREX) -- Leon Golub, Harvard-Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory -- An X-ray solar observatory with three
telescopes (with up to 1 m diameter primary mirrors) would provide both
ultra-high resolution and a large dynamic range in spatial and spectral
coverage allowing for measurement of processes ranging from global scale
coronal disruptions to micro-scale instabilities. In order to reduce the
costs of such a mission, HIREX would use advanced light-weight mirrors, a
light-weight, deployable, 40 m long, telescope structure, on-orbit focus
and alignment, and real-time image stabilization.
- Multiple Tethered Satellites for Ionospheric Studies -- Roderick A.
Heelis, University of Texas, Dallas -- This mission would advance our
understanding of ionosphere-thermosphere-magnetosphere coupling processes
using multiple tethered satellites. The tether, which would be used to
control the vertical separations of the spacecraft, would allow the study
of vertical gradients simultaneously with sampling along the horizontal
- SIRA Solar Imaging Radio Array -- Michael L. Kaiser, NASA/Goddard Space
Flight Center -- A fleet of spacecraft would make images of solar radio
emissions which would provide new information about shock wave mechanisms
and acceleration processes associated with coronal mass ejections and solar
flares. The fleet of 16 micro satellites would function as a space based
interferometer and fly in a 10 km diameter formation in solar orbit near
- Stereo X-Ray Corona Imager -- Paulett C. Liewer, Jet Propulsion
Laboratory -- A single spacecraft/single instrument mission that would
produce stereo and 3D X-ray images and movies of the sun's corona using
advanced image processing technologies on the spacecraft along with data
from other space-based and ground-based solar observations.
- Maxwell, Faraday, and Vlasov: 3 Direct Measurements of Current --
Kristina Lynch, University of New Hampshire -- A small secondary payload
mission that would make quantitative measurements of auroral electrical
currents. The payload would consist of a mother spacecraft and 36 small (6
cm diameter) free-flying autonomous spacecraft utilizing new technologies
in advanced miniaturized sensors, integrated microelectronics, and
miniature spacecraft systems.
- Multi-Point Magnetospheric Reconnaissance Imaging Visualization of Ion
Dynamics, Evolution, Origins, and Structure -- Donald G. Mitchell, Applied
Physics Laboratory -- This mission would create accurate 3-D images of the
magnetosphere by making simultaneous multi-point observations of the
energetic neutral atoms and ultraviolet emissions using multiple, small
- Giant Platforms for Cosmic Ray Observations above the Atmosphere --
Dietrich Muller, University of Chicago -- This mission would determine the
composition and energy spectrum of high-energy cosmic rays and look for and
characterize the upper limits of acceleration by supernova shock waves, and
possibly the source of higher energy particles by using a very large
light-weight cosmic ray detector on a 100-day stratospheric balloon flight.
- Solar Polar Sail Mission -- Marcia Neugebauer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
-- This mission would study the physics and dynamics of coronal mass
ejections and other eruptions from the surface of the sun using solar sails
to propel a spacecraft into a circular polar orbit around the sun.
- Orbiting Array of Wide-angle Light Collectors (OWL): A Pair of Earth
Orbiting Eyes to Study Air Showers Initiated by >1020 eV Quanta --
Jonathan F. Ormes, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center -- This mission would
image the faint air showers produced by Nature's most energetic particles
as they move through the Earth's atmosphere at the speed of light. The
origin of these energetic particles is unknown and determining the origin
could shed light on conditions in the early universe. Two spacecraft, each
with an array of seven light-weight, deployable light concentrators (each 3
meters in diameter), would be placed in Earth orbit.
- Design Study for a Global Magnetospheric Dynamics Mission -- Christopher
T. Russell, University of California, Los Angeles -- This mission would
explore the fundamental microphysical processes in the Earth's
magnetosphere using a fleet of 4 spacecraft in a tetrahedral formation and
propelled by solar electric propulsion.
- SOLAR - A Mission To Measure The Quadrapole Moment Of The Sun -- David E.
Smith, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center -- This mission would measure the
perturbations on a spacecraft's orbit caused by small variations in the
gravity of the sun. These perturbations provide information on the nature
of the deep solar interior. A small spacecraft, weighing only about 45
pounds, that would be put into an orbit around the sun between the Earth
and Mercury and use a laser tracking system to measurement the
perturbations. This system would also be used for optical communications
with the ground stations on Earth.
- Lower Ionosphere Thermosphere Explorer -- Stanley C. Solomon, University
of Colorado, Boulder -- This would be a low cost (< $20 M class)
exploratory mission lasting only 2-3 months to make direct in-situ
measurements of the density, temperature and composition of the Earth's
lower thermosphere from 120-200 km, including the region below 140 km which
is the least measured and least understood region of the Earth's
- The Magnetospheric Mapping Mission -- Harlan E. Spence, Boston University
-- This mission would measure the Earth's vector magnetic field from 5 to
10 Re (Re is the radius of the Earth.) and produce continuous sequences of
3-D images of the magnetosphere by using more than 100 micro-satellites
with advanced detectors and a novel data telemetry approach.
- Advanced Calorimeter for Composition of Elements on the Space Station
(ACCESS) to Study >10 TeV Cosmic Rays -- John P. Wefel, Louisiana State
University -- A large International Space Station instrument to find the
composition and energy spectrum of high-energy cosmic rays, to look for and
characterize the upper limits of acceleration by supernova shock waves, and
possibly the source of higher energy particles.
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