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. (http://cor.gsfc.nasa.gov/technology/tech-gap.php).

Results are published annually in the Program Annual Technology Report (PATR). In the 2013 PATR, 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.
  • High-reflectivity UV coatings: Development of UV coatings with high reflectivity, high uniformity, and wide bandpasses, ideally operating from the visible to wavelengths below 100 nm.
  • Lightweight precision mirrors: Both large monolithic mirrors for ultra-stable large apertures, and smaller deployable mirrors to make very large apertures, for future UV/Optical/Near-IR telescopes.
  • High-efficiency UV multi-object spectrometers: Future UV spectroscopic missions require high throughput (>50%), multiplexing (> 100 sources simultaneously, R~3000) spectrometers operating across 100-400nm (or broader) band.

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,
1 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 FY14,
3 years
SAT2012 Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) Arrays Z. Ninkov Rochester Inst. of Technology FY14,
2 years

COR Technology Prioritization

Every year the COR program reviews the gaps between currently available technology, and what is needed to achieve our COR science goals.

We strongly encourage contributions from the community. Please send us your thoughts on what technologies need to be developed to make future COR missions possible. More information, and input forms, are available at http://cor.gsfc.nasa.gov/technology/tech-gap.php. Forms are preferred before June 16, 2014, but may be submitted until June 30, 2014.


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25 Jun 2014
Executive Committee of NASA's Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group: Call for nominations »  [Details]
6 May 2014
COPAG activities at AAS, preliminary agenda available »  [Details]
21 Apr 2014
NASA HQ 2014 Science Plan now available »  [PDF]

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