In DepthAstrophysics

Astrophysics missions vie for NASA money

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  18 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6352, pp. 634
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6352.634

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


From exoplanet atmospheres to the dynamics of galaxies to the stretch marks left by the big bang, the three finalists in a $250 million astrophysics mission competition would tackle questions spanning all of space and time. Announced last week by NASA, the three missions—whittled down from nine proposals—will receive $2 million each to develop a more detailed concept over the coming 9 months, before NASA selects one in 2019 to be the next mid-sized Explorer. A launch would come after 2022. Explorer missions aim to answer pressing scientific questions more cheaply and quickly than NASA's multibillion-dollar flagships, such as the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, which can take decades to design and build. The missions are led by scientists, either from a NASA center or a university, and NASA has launched more than 90 of them since the 1950s.