Chapter 2 assesses the contribution that each mission candidate would make to three central Beyond Einstein science questions: What powered the big bang? How do black holes manipulate space, time, and matter? and What is the mysterious dark energy pulling the universe apart? Chapter 2 summarizes the strengths, scientific uncertainties, readiness, and uniqueness of the mission candidates and associated scientific programs. It should be noted that since the mission candidates vary greatly in their stage of development, the mission assessments necessarily differ in their level of detail in both Chapters 2 and 3.
Chapter 3 examines the technical and programmatic challenges presented by each of the 11 Beyond Einstein mission candidates. The committee assessed team organization, project management, technology readiness and difficulty, cost and schedule risks, and technical and cost margins; it also identified special challenges particular to each mission candidate. Chapter 3 can be used as a summary reference for Beyond Einstein mission readiness as of FY 2007. The committee’s intent has been to provide a basis for judging the readiness of each mission to proceed to a Formulation Phase A (conceptual design phase) in FY 2009, and to support its advice on how best to prepare each mission area for consideration by the NRC’s forthcoming decadal survey.
Chapter 4 discusses policy and overarching programmatic issues associated with the Beyond Einstein Program, including implications for U.S. science and technology leadership, program funding constraints, the role of interagency and international partnerships, the broader uses of investments in research and technology infrastructure, and the implications of International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Such issues are representative of those faced by most cutting-edge space science programs.
Chapter 5 contains the committee’s eight major findings and three principal recommendations. The findings are not listed in priority order; their order expresses the progression of reasoning that led to the three principal conclusions. The chapter also summarizes the committee’s overall assessments of each of the Beyond Einstein mission candidates and provides advice on how to move each mission area forward until it can be considered by the decadal survey.