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Proceedings Paper

AstroBiology Explorer (ABE) MIDEX mission concept: identifying organic molecules in space
Author(s): Kimberly A. Ennico; Scott Sandford; Louis Allamandola; Jesse D. Bregman; Martin Cohen; Dale Cruikshank; Thomas P. Greene; Douglas Hudgins; Sun Kwok; Steven D. Lord; Suzanne Madden; Craig R. McCreight; Thomas L. Roellig; Donald W. Strecker; A. G. G. M. Tielens; Michael W. Werner
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Paper Abstract

The Astrobiology Explorer (ABE) is a MIDEX mission concept, currently under Concept Phase A study at NASA's Ames Research Center in collaboration with Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Corp., and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. ABE will conduct infrared 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 Ritchey-Chretien telescope and three moderate resolution (R = 2000-3000) spectrometers together covering the 2.5-20 micron spectral region. Large format (1024 x 1024 pixel) IR detector arrays will allow each spectrometer to cover an entire octave of spectral range 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 ~7.5 K by a solid hydrogen cryostat. 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 ~1.5 year mission lifetime.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 March 2003
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4850, IR Space Telescopes and Instruments, (5 March 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.461145
Show Author Affiliations
Kimberly A. Ennico, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Scott Sandford, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Louis Allamandola, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Jesse D. Bregman, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Martin Cohen, Univ. of California/Berkeley (United States)
Dale Cruikshank, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Thomas P. Greene, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Douglas Hudgins, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Sun Kwok, Univ. of Calgary (Canada)
Steven D. Lord, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Suzanne Madden, CEA-Service d'Astrophysique (France)
Craig R. McCreight, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Thomas L. Roellig, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Donald W. Strecker, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)
A. G. G. M. Tielens, Kapteyn Astronomical Institute (Netherlands)
Michael W. Werner, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4850:
IR Space Telescopes and Instruments
John C. Mather, Editor(s)

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