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Proceedings Paper

AstroBiology Explorer (ABE) MIDEX mission concept
Author(s): Kimberly A. Ennico; Scott Sandford; Sylvia Cox; Benton Ellis; Dennis J. Gallagher; Nick Gautier; Thomas P. Greene; Craig R. McCreight; Gary Mills; William R. Purcell
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Paper Abstract

The Astrobiology Explorer (ABE) is a MIDEX mission concept under study at NASA's Ames Research Center in collaboration with Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Corp. ABE will conduct IR spectroscopic observations to address important problems in astrobiology, astrochemistry, and astrophysics. The core observational program would make fundamental scientific progress in understanding the distribution, identity, and evolution of ices and organic matter in dense molecular clouds, young forming stellar systems, stellar outflows, the general diffuse ISM, HII regions, Solar System bodies, and external galaxies. The ABE instrument concept includes a 0.6 m aperture Cassegrain telescope and two moderate resolution (R equals 2000-3000) spectrographs covering the 2.5-16 micron spectral region. Large format (1024x1024 pixel or larger) IR detector arrays and bandpass filters will allow each spectrograph to cover an entire octave of spectral range or more per exposure without any moving parts. The telescope will be cooled below 50 K by a cryogenic dewar shielded by a sunshade. The detectors will be cooled to ~8K. The optimum orbital configuration for achieving the scientific objectives of the ABE mission is a low background, 1 AU Earth driftaway orbit requiring a Delta II launch vehicle. This configuration provides a low thermal background and allows adequate communications bandwidth and good access to the entire sky over the ~1-2 year mission lifetime.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 February 2002
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 4495, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV, (5 February 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.454755
Show Author Affiliations
Kimberly A. Ennico, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Scott Sandford, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Sylvia Cox, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Benton Ellis, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)
Dennis J. Gallagher, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)
Nick Gautier, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Thomas P. Greene, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Craig R. McCreight, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Gary Mills, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)
William R. Purcell, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4495:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IV
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Roland R. Paepe; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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