Black holes or extrasolar planets? A look for dark energy or back to the beginning of time? These are the types of questions occupying teams of scientists hired by NASA to propose capstone space science missions for the 2020s.
The effort begins with 19 study contracts funded by NASA, which intends to submit the top proposals to the National Academy of Sciences. The board sets priorities for major U.S. science initiatives. Once every 10 years, it takes a crack at determining the country's priorities in space science, as well as other areas.
Among the proposals is a project headed by Webster Cash, professor and director of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The center's team is working on a way to take picures of Earth-sized planets around other stars. Read the full story from MSNBC.
Cash has authored three recent SPIE Newsroom articles related to the center's work:
Ultradeep occultation for planet hunting
Mapping Earth-like planets at a distance of 30 lightyears
"Starshades" for exoplanet detection and characterization
Cash has published nearly 70 articles with SPIE, and is scheduled to present at the SPIE Europe Optics+Optoelectronics symposium in Prague, Czech Republic, in April. He has served on conference program committees for SPIE symposia on Astronomical Instrumentation, Optics+Photonics, and Optics+Optoelectronics.