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 were evaluated and prioritized by our Technology Management Board (TMB) in July 2015. We anticipate the next call for Technology Gaps will be due around June 1, 2016.

The COPAG, representing the COR community, reviews all submitted and previous technology gaps, and is asked to combine gaps when appropriate, or to suggest deletions from the list of previously submitted gaps.

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 are published in the 2015 PATR. When the Astrophysics Division drafts future calls for technology development, and makes investment decisions, they refer to the priority recommendations listed in the PATR. Other organizations wishing to partner with the Astrophysics Division, such as NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), also refer to the PATR.

The technology gaps evaluated in 2015 are described on pages 14-40 of the 2015 PATR, and rankings are summarized on page 43. The highest-priority technologies this year were:

  • Large-Format, Low-Noise, and Ultralow-Noise Far-IR Detectors;
  • Band-Shaping and Dichroic Filters for the UV/Vis;
  • Heterodyne Far-IR Detector Arrays and Related Technologies;
  • High-QE, Rad-Hard, Large-Format, Non-Photon-Counting UVOIR Detectors;
  • Photon-Counting Large-Format UV Detectors;
  • High-Efficiency UV Multi-Object Spectrometers; and
  • High-Refelctivity Mirror Coatings for UV/Vis/Near-IR.

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 [PPTX]
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
SAT2013 was not solicited in Cosmic Origins
SAT2014 Raising the TRL of 4.7 THz Local Oscillators Q. Hu MIT 2016,
3 years
SAT2014 Advanced FUV/UV/Visible Photon-counting Ultralow-Noise Detectors S. Nikzad JPL 2016,
3 years
SAT2014 Plasma-Enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition for Efficient Far-UV Interference Filters P. Scowen ASU 2016,
3 years
SAT2014 Development of Large-Area Photon-Counting UV Detectors J. Vallerga UC Berkely 2016,
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

Program News

13 Nov 2015
New! COPAG Executive Committee Selections November 2015 »  [PDF]
5 Oct 2015
Final COPAG Response to Paul Hertz, October 8, 2015 now available »  [PDF]
1 Oct 2015
2015 COR Program Annual Technology Report (PATR) now available »  [PDF]
1 Sep 2015
COR Newsletter for September 2015 now available »  [PDF]

Project News

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Herschel News
17 Jun 2013
Herschel Decommissioned » Details