PCOS Studies

X-ray Surveyor Study

The X-ray Surveyor is a concept for a scientifically compelling X-ray observatory that could revolutionize our understanding of the physics of astronomical systems and enable frontier science from first accretion light in the Universe to solar system objects. X-ray Surveyor should provide a great leap forward in capability including high angular resolution and throughput for orders of magnitude gains in sensitivity, a large field of view, and high resolution spectroscopy.

X-ray Surveyor is one of four Decadal Survey Mission Concept Studies initiated in January 2016. The study will extend over three years and executed by the Marshall Space Flight Center under the leadership of a Science and Technology Definition Team (STDT) drawn from the community.

More information may be found on the X-ray Surveyor website.

Note: The X-ray Science and Technology Definition team has set up a public email list which will be used for periodic updates on the X-ray Surveyor study, and for announcements of meetings and telecons. If you would like to stay current with X-ray Surveyor-related activities, please sign up at


Study for NASA participation in the ESA-led L3 Gravitational Wave Mission (2016-2018)

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).

NASA-ESA Athena Study

Following ESA's selection of Athena as the observatory in response to their L2 theme "The Hot and Energetic Universe," 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 .

Completed Studies (2012-2015)

• 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:

Program News

22 Aug 2016
Call for Nominations to the Executive Committee of the Physics of the Cosmos Program Analysis Group (PhysPAG) »  [PDF]
28 July 2016
L3ST Interim Report now available »  [PDF]
14 July 2016
PCOS Newsletter for July 2016 now available »  [PDF]
14 June 2016
LISA Pathfinder First Results Announcements »  Details

Project News

Chandra News
30 Aug 2016
Record-breaking Galaxy Cluster Discovered » Details
Fermi News
12 Aug 2016
NASA's Fermi Mission Expands its Search for Dark Matter » Details
Planck News
13 Aug 2016
First Stars Formed Even Later Than Previously Thought
» Details
XMM-Newton News
29 Aug 2016
XMM-Newton Reveals the Milky Way's Explosive Past » Details

Related News

Hitomi News
6 July 2016
Hitomi Mission Charts Hot Winds of a Galaxy Cluster for the First Time »  Details
28 Jul 2016
Chorus of Black Holes Sings in X-Rays » Details
Suzaku News
26 Aug 2015
X-ray Astronomy Satellite "Suzaku" Completes Scientific Mission » Details
Swift News
8 Sep 2016
Young Magnetar Likely the Slowest Pulsar Ever Detected » Details