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Proceedings Paper

Breakthrough capability for UVOIR space astronomy: reaching the darkest sky
Author(s): Matthew A. Greenhouse; Scott W. Benson; Jacob Englander; Robert D. Falck; Dale J. Fixsen; Jonathan P. Gardner; Jeffrey W. Kruk; Steven R. Oleson; Harley A. Thronson
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Paper Abstract

We describe how availability of new solar electric propulsion (SEP) technology can substantially increase the science capability of space astronomy missions working within the near-UV to far-infrared (UVOIR) spectrum by making dark sky orbits accessible for the first time. We present two case studies in which SEP is used to enable a 700 kg Explorer-class and 7000 kg flagship-class observatory payload to reach an orbit beyond where the zodiacal dust limits observatory sensitivity. The resulting scientific performance advantage relative to a Sun-Earth L2 point (SEL2) orbit is presented and discussed. We find that making SEP available to astrophysics Explorers can enable this small payload program to rival the science performance of much larger long development-time systems. Similarly, we find that astrophysics utilization of high power SEP being developed for the Asteroid Redirect Robotics Mission (ARRM) can have a substantial impact on the sensitivity performance of heavier flagship-class astrophysics payloads such as the UVOIR successor to the James Webb Space Telescope.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 August 2014
PDF: 19 pages
Proc. SPIE 9143, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 914317 (2 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2055340
Show Author Affiliations
Matthew A. Greenhouse, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Scott W. Benson, NASA Glenn Research Ctr. (United States)
Jacob Englander, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Robert D. Falck, NASA Glenn Research Ctr. (United States)
Dale J. Fixsen, Univ. of Maryland, College Park (United States)
Jonathan P. Gardner, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Jeffrey W. Kruk, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Steven R. Oleson, NASA Glenn Research Ctr. (United States)
Harley A. Thronson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9143:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Jacobus M. Oschmann; Mark Clampin; Giovanni G. Fazio; Howard A. MacEwen, Editor(s)

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