Washington -- NASA has selected six candidate mission proposals for further evaluation as part of the agency's Small Explorer (SMEX) Program. The proposals will study the far reaches of the universe, including the Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere, the Sun, black holes, the first stars, and Earthlike planets around nearby stars.
Following detailed mission concept studies, NASA intends to select two of the mission proposals in the spring of 2009 for full development as SMEX missions. The first mission could launch by 2012. Both will launch by 2015. Mission costs will be capped at $105 million each, excluding the launch vehicle.
"We received many excellent proposals," said Mr. Charles Gay, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, "The six we selected for further study offer outstanding science in a small satellite mission."
The selected proposals were judged to have the best science value among 32 compliant SMEX proposals submitted to NASA in January 2008. Each will receive $750,000 to conduct a six-month implementation feasibility study.
The selected proposals are:
NASA also received 17 Mission of Opportunity proposals for consideration and will schedule an evaluation board at a later date.
The proposals are vying to be the 12th and 13th Small Explorer missions selected for full development. The Explorer program is designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space for heliophysics and astrophysics missions with small to mid-sized spacecraft. The program is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
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