SUMMARY

The following missions are the priority recommendations of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee’s Panel on Ultraviolet, Optical, and Infrared Astronomy from Space. All recommendations are a consensus of the panel.

MAJOR MISSIONS

When it prioritized major missions, the panel assumed that the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM), one of the initiatives recommended in the 1991 survey committee report,1 will be flown and that the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) will operate until 2010.

NEXT GENERATION SPACE TELESCOPE

NGST, ranked by the panel as the top-priority major mission for the decade, will reveal the onset of star and galaxy formation in the early universe. Its combination of scientific breadth and depth make it a compelling successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It is the first of two logical paths to improved image resolution and sensitivity in space: increase overall aperture size. It should be technologically ready to be launched before 2010.

The panel considered extensions of the core mission, currently 1 to 5 µm, and favors an extension to longer wavelengths, beyond 20 µm, for example, as scientifically more useful than extension to shorter wavelengths.

TERRESTRIAL PLANET FINDER

TPF was ranked as the second-priority major mission for the decade. Designed to observe directly Earth-sized planets near other stars, it is potentially the most scientifically exciting of all the major missions, depending on the breadth of its mission goals. It is the second logical path to improved image resolution and sensitivity in space: distributed aperture interferometry. Because TPF will depend on the successful

1  

Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee, National Research Council. 1991. The Decade of Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press).



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