NASA will study four large mission concepts as candidates for prioritization by the 2020 NRC Decadal Survey, anticipating that the Survey Committee will use these studies in formulating their recommendation for the priorities for large strategic missions following JWST and WFIRST. Each study will be led by a Science and Technology Development Team (STDT) and enabled by a NASA Center-based study office. The study STDTs have the responsibility to develop the science case for each candidate concept, flow the science case into mission requirements, vet technology gaps, and direct trades of science vs cost/capability. The STDTs will be chartered and managed by NASA HQ with membership selected from the scientific community. The X-ray Surveyor mission concept was identified in the Astrophysics Visionary Roadmap as contributing through major improvements in sensitivity, spectroscopy, and angular resolution.
NASA intends to partner with ESA on the third Large-Class mission (L3) in ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme, planned for launch in 2034. ESA has selected a gravitational wave observatory as the science theme. To this end, NASA is starting a study conducted by selected members of the community by forming an L3 Study Team (L3ST).
Following ESA's selection of Athena as the observatory in response to their L2 theme "The Hot and Energetic Universe," NASA is NASA is working with ESA to define the possible NASA contribution to this ESA-led X-ray mission both in terms of hardware and also science. More details on Athena are available at http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/athena .
• 2013-2014 X-ray Probe Study
NASA's Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) Program plans to establish a Science and Technology Definition Team (STDT) to study concepts for a potential reduced-scale strategic spectroscopy X-ray mission with total mission cost less than $1B in FY 2013 constant year dollars. The X-ray Probe (XAP) STDT is being constituted to assist the Astrophysics Division, through its PCOS Program Office, in developing a reference mission concept of high scientific, technical, and programmatic merit that would both address the X-ray science goals and program prioritizations of the Decadal Survey New World New Horizons (NWNH) for X-ray astrophysics and be executable within the Astrophysics Division's notional budget profile. For further details, see the Call for Letters of Application for Membership in the Science and Technology Definition Teams for Reduced Scale X-ray Mission Concepts.
• 2012 Architecting Studies
NASA's Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) Program is initiating two studies to develop mission concepts that could meet some or all of the objectives outlined in the New Worlds, New Horizons decadal report for the areas of X-ray astronomy and gravitational-wave science. The PCOS Program will work with these communities to define mission concepts that achieve these science objectives at multiple price points.
This begins with the release of a formal Request for Information (RFI) on each topic. In parallel, NASA will release an open solicitation inviting members of the science community to participate in a Community Science Team (CST) for the X-ray mission or the gravitational-wave mission. The Program Office will work with each CST to review the RFI responses. In the late Fall workshops, which will be open to the community, will be held to discuss the RFI responses and define the mission concepts that will be studied.
A PCOS Program study team, working with each CST, will identify the requirements relevant to each concept, define the mission configuration options, execute mission design runs at mission design laboratories, refine the mission concepts and draft a mission concept study report. The Program Office will integrate the mission reports in May 2012 for submission to the NRC's Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Details relevant to each of these architecting studies can be found by following the links below: