Feeds

NASA reviews nine astrophysics missions, loves 'em all

Kepler, Swift, Fermi, Spitzer extended – 'There are no clunkers here'

Build a business case: developing custom apps

NASA has published its biannual Senior Review of Operating Missions, and the news is good for space-science buffs: all nine missions reviewed will receive continued funding, including the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope, which are identified as "the two most important missions in this Senior Review."

Chandra and the HST will be funded over the next two years to the tune of $50m to $100m per year. The next highest rated mission, the Review concluded, is the habitable-planet searcher Kepler, followed by the Fermi gamma-ray space telescope and the Warm Spitzer infrared mission. These three missions will receive yearly support from between $15m and $50m each.

The Swift probe – which NASA catagorizes as an "Explorer Class" effort, ranks next in importance. The Review notes that "Its range of applications continues to grow" and that its "ability to respond to a wide range of different transient events has led to a steady stream of unanticipated scientific achievements." Over the next two years, Swift will receive between $5m and $15m per year.

The final class of efforts that the Review, well, reviews, are NASA's collaborative efforts with the European Space Agency and Japan – bargains for NASA, seeing as how collaboration requires only "relatively modest contributions and at very low ongoing costs." Very low, in this context, means from between $1m to $7m per year.

The two ESA efforts, the Planck microwave and XMM-Newton X-Ray observatories, were ranked slightly higher than the Japanese Suzaku X-ray astronomy mission, the report notes, but it praises the joint effort of that country's Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the US as being "much less expensive" than participation in the ESA efforts, and notes that the scientific programs of all three collaborations are quite strong.

"There are no 'clunkers' in the group," the Review concludes. "This is a strong suite of missions making excellent progress on a wide range of scientific issues. They are all fully deserving of NASA support."

Some of the missions received support for extended lives. Mission operations for Swift and Kepler, for example, were extended through fiscal 2016 with funding for data analysis, Planck's sky-mapping Low Frequency Instrument gets a one-year extension, Fermi's operations are extended through fiscal 2016, and Spitzer's work will continue through fiscal 2014, with closeout scheduled for fiscal 2015.

A detailed accounting of each mission's strengths and weaknesses, lifecycles and extensions, can be found here, along with details of how the rankings were determined. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.