Technology

Future Cosmic Origins (COR) missions, as is the case for all astrophysics missions, will be enabled or greatly enhanced by continuous development and improvement of technologies beyond our current state of the art. NASA's Astrophysics Division funds the development of technology at all levels of maturity. The Astrophysics Research and Analysis (APRA) program typically funds technology development in the earliest phases, from basic research through the first feasibility demonstrations (Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1 through 3).

The Strategic Astrophysics Technology (SAT) program matures technologies that address the needs of a specific future mission, taking them from proof of concept through validation in relevant environment demonstration (TRL 3 through 6). A recent Perez et al. paper, "Technology maturation process: The NASA strategic astrophysics technology (SAT) program" overviews the SAT program.

The final maturation stages (TRL 7 through 9) focus on proving the technology's flight-worthiness for a mission-specific application. Thus, these stages are addressed by incorporating the technology into a flight project's implementation plan. Flight testing may be done on a suborbital balloon or sounding rocket flight, which is funded through the APRA program, mentioned above.

NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate funds a wide range of technology development, from basic principles to flight demonstrations, including significant support for astrophysics.

Strategic Technology Capability Gaps

The Astrophysics Division solicits Technology Development for the Cosmic Origins Program (TCOR) under the SAT, seeking to prepare strategic technologies for implementation in space flight missions. Selection of proposals for funding under the SAT/TCOR portion of the annual ROSES selection is based on (1) overall scientific and technical merit of the proposal, (2) programmatic relevance of the proposed work, and (3) affordability of the proposed work. The ROSES SAT 2013 selection abstracts show the technologies most recently funded.

COR Technology Prioritization

Each year, the COR Program reviews and prioritizes gaps between currently available technology and what is needed to achieve our science goals. Our annual prioritization process begins with your important input regarding capabilities you believe are needed to enable or enhance future COR missions.

The COR Program Analysis Group (COPAG) is the main conduit for collecting technology gaps identified by the community. However, we also welcome direct contributions from the community, so please send us your thoughts on what strategic technologies we should develop to enable future COR missions using our downloadable technology gap submission form. While we welcome gap submissions anytime, only those received by June 1, 2015 will be evaluated and prioritized by our Technology Management Board (TMB) in July. Later submissions will be evaluated in 2016.

The TMB uses a set of criteria that reflect our goals, as described in our Program Annual Technology Report (PATR), a key product of the Program's technology development process. The results of this year’s TMB prioritization will be published in the 2015 PATR, to be released in October. When the Astrophysics Division drafts future calls for technology development, and makes investment decisions, they refer to the priority recommendations listed in the PATR.

The technology gaps evaluated in 2014 are described on pages 17-36 of the 2014 PATR, and rankings are summarized on page 39. The highest-priority technologies this year were:

  • High-Reflectivity Optical Coatings for UV/Vis/NIR;
  • High-QE, Large-Format UV detectors;
  • Photon-Counting, Large-Format UV Detectors;
  • Affordable, Light-Weight, Large-Aperture Optics;
  • Wavefront Sensing and Control at the Nanometer Level; and
  • High-Efficiency UV Multi-Object Spectrometers

We invite you to read the PATR to learn more about our technology management process and activities, the technology capability gaps submitted by the community, the priorities we assigned these for investment consideration during the upcoming year, and the status and plans of our current technology development investments.

COR Technology Development Portfolio

Technology proposals currently funded through the SAT/TCOR are listed in the table below. SAT2013 was not solicited.

COR Technology Development Portfolio [PDF]
Funding Solicitation Proposal Title PI Institution Start Year & Duration
SAT2010 High Performance Cross-Strip Micro-Channel Plate Detector Systems for Spaceflight Experiments [PPTX] J. Vallerga UC Berkeley FY12,
3 years
SAT2010 Enhanced MgF2 and LiF Overcoated Aluminum Mirrors for FUV Space Astronomy [PPTX] M. Quijada GSFC FY12,
3 years
SAT2011 Ultraviolet Coatings, Materials and Processes for Advanced Telescope Optics [PPTX] K. Balasubramanian JPL FY13,
3 years
SAT2011 Kinetic Inductance Detector Imaging Arrays for Far-Infrared Astrophysics [PPTX] J. Zmuidzinas JPL FY13,
2 years
SAT2011 High Efficiency Detectors in Photon Counting and Large Focal Plane Arrays for Astrophysics Missions [PPTX] S. Nikzad JPL FY13,
3 years
SAT2012 Advanced Mirror Technology Phase 2 [PPTX] P. Stahl MSFC FY14,
3 years
SAT2012 A Far-Infrared Heterodyne Array [PPTX] I. Mehdi JPL FY14,
3 years
SAT2012 Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) Arrays [PPTX] Z. Ninkov Rochester Inst. of Technology FY14,
2 years

Your inputs and suggestions are important to us! Whether you develop cutting-edge technology or use that technology to expand our understanding of the universe, we encourage you to read the PATR and tell us what you think. This is your opportunity to take an active role in shaping the future of COR science. Also, please feel free to comment on the technology gaps prioritization process itself.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact thai.pham@nasa.gov


Program News

22 Jul 2015
Call for Nominations to Serve on the Executive Committee of NASA's Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group (COPAG) »  [Details]
7 Jul 2015
AURA releases report "Cosmic Birth to Living Earths," on future large UV-Visible mission concept. »  [Details]

Project News

Hubble News
24 Jun 2015
Hubble Sees a 'Behemoth' Bleeding Atmosphere Around a Warm Neptune-Sized Exoplanet » Details
Spitzer News
5 May 2015
Astronomers Set a New Galaxy Distance Record » Details
Herschel News
17 Jun 2013
Herschel Decommissioned » Details