Technology

NASA's Astrophysics Division funds the development of technology at all levels of maturity. The Astrophysics Research and Analysis (APRA) program funds technology development in the earliest phases, from basic research through the first feasibility demonstrations, (typically 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 the feasibility demonstration to a lab demonstration of a design that meets specific performance requirements (TRL 4 through 6). 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 through a vetted Technology Development Plan (TDP). Occasionally, a mission concept in pre-formulation is well-enough defined to have a vetted TDP. When budget constraints allow, the COR program will fund the development of those technologies through a specific funding allocation in the Supporting Research and Technology budget.

NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate funds a wide range of technology development, from very early proof-of-concept to flight demonstrations, and including significant support for astrophysics.

Targeted Technology Areas

The Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters solicits proposals under the Strategic Astrophysics Technology/Technology Development for Cosmic Origins Program (SAT/TCOP), with the goal of preparing key technologies for implementation in space flight missions. Selection of proposals for funding, under the SAT/TCOP portion of the annual ROSES selection are based on the following factors: (1) overall scientific and technical merit of the proposal; (2) programmatic relevance of the proposed work; and (3) affordability of the proposed work.

Technology needs are prioritized annually by the COR program, after soliciting input from the community through the COPAG or by individual submission (DOCX).

Results are published annually in the Program Annual Technology Report (PATR). In the 2012 PATR, and in the 2013 SAT/TCOP solicitation, the highest priority technologies were:

  • High-QE, large-format UV detectors: Future NASA UV missions require high-QE (>70%), large-format (>2K x 2K) detectors for operation at 100-400 nm or broader. The goal is to produce large-format, high-QE, low-noise UV-sensitive detectors routinely that can be employed in a variety of suborbital, Explorer, medium-class, and strategic missions.
  • Photon-counting, large-format UV detectors: Future NASA UV missions, particularly those devoted to spectroscopy, require high-QE (>50%), low-noise (<10-7 ct/pixel/s), large-format (>2K x 2K) photon-counting detectors for operation at 100-400 nm or broader.
  • UV coatings: Development of UV coatings with high reflectivity, high uniformity, and wide bandpasses, ideally operating from the visible to wavelengths below 100 nm.
  • Ultra-low-noise Far-IR direct detectors: Future NASA Far-IR missions require detectors optimized for the very low photon backgrounds present in space for spectroscopy at wavelengths between ~30µm and ~300µm. Detector sensitivities with noise equivalent powers of ≈ 3⋅10-21 W/√Hz are needed for spectroscopy, arrayable in a close-packed configuration in at least one direction.

Technology proposals funded through the SAT/TCOP are listed in the table below:

COR Technology Development Portfolio [PDF]
Funding Solicitation Proposal Title PI Institution Start Year & Duration
Targeted Heterodyne Technology For SOFIA [PDF] P. Goldsmith JPL FY10,
3 years
Targeted Far-Infrared Large Format Array Detectors H. Moseley GSFC FY10,
3 years
SAT2010 Advanced UVOIR Mirror Technology Development for Very Large Space Telescope [PDF] P. Stahl MSFC FY12,
3 years
SAT2010 High Performance Cross-Strip Micro-Channel Plate Detector Systems for Spaceflight Experiments [PDF] J. Vallerga UC Berkeley FY12,
3 years
SAT2010 Enhanced MgF2 and LiF Overcoated Aluminum Mirrors for FUV Space Astronomy [PDF] M. Quijada GSFC FY12,
3 years
SAT2011 Ultraviolet Coatings, Materials and Processes for Advanced Telescope Optics [PDF] K. Balasubramanian JPL FY13,
3 years
SAT2011 Kinetic Inductance Detector Imaging Arrays for Far-Infrared Astrophysics [PDF] J. Zmuidzinas JPL FY13,
2 years
SAT2011 Improvement of the Performance of Near-Infrared Detectors for NASA Astrophysics Missions: Reducing the Sub-1% Detector Effects [PDF] S. Anglin Teledyne FY13,
1 year
SAT2011 H4RG Near-IR Detector Array with 10 Micron Pixels for WFIRST [PDF] B. Rauscher GSFC FY13,
3 years
SAT2011 High Efficiency Detectors in Photon Counting and Large Focal Plane Arrays for Astrophysics Missions [PDF] S. Nikzad JPL FY13,
3 years
SAT2012 Advanced Mirror Technology Phase 2 P. Stahl MSFC FY14,
3 years
SAT2012 A Far-Infrared Heterodyne Array I. Mehdi JPL FY13,
3 years
SAT2012 Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) Arrays Z. Ninkov Rochester Inst. of Technology FY14,
2 years

Technology Needs Form

You can submit COR Technology Needs by downloading and returning the Technology Needs Word doc form. [DOCX]

Forms for 2013 were due on July 19, 2013. Input for 2014 is expected to be requested in summer 2014.


Program News

15 Apr 2014
COPAG SIG and SAGs to meet at AAS meeting, June 2, 2014 »  Details
15 Apr 2014
Workshop on the Future of Far-Infrared Space Astrophysics, May 12-13, 2014 »  Details
1 Mar 2013
COR Newletter for March 2014 now available »  Details
18 Dec 2013
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