Tag Archives: astrophysics

Because of a $10 million shortfall in its astrophysics budget, NASA is weighing the fate of nine operating space telescopes.

Because of a $10 million shortfall in its astrophysics budget, NASA is weighing the fate of nine operating space telescopes.

Six of the projects vying for extended funding are U.S.-based. Three are overseen by international space agencies and have U.S. partners.

The NASA missions are: the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope; the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array X-ray observatory; the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope; the Swift Telescope, which tracks gamma-ray bursts; a proposed Kepler space telescope follow-on mission known as K2; and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which was brought out of hibernation last year to help search for asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

Also in the running are two European Space Agency missions, XMM-Newton — an X-ray observatory — and Planck, which studied relic radiation from the Big Bang. Planck was decommissioned in October, but its data analysis program continues.

The final contender is Japan’s Suzaku X-ray telescope.

NASA management yesterday extended funding for almost all of its on-going astrophysics missions, including Hubble, Kepler, Chandra, and Fermi.

NASA management yesterday extended funding for all but one of its on-going astrophysics missions, including Hubble, Kepler, Chandra, and Fermi.

According to a statement from NASA headquarters, all missions will continue in fiscal years 2013 and 2014. The guest observer programme for the Chandra X-ray Observatory would even be augmented. Only Spitzer, an infrared telescope, would be phased out earlier than the mission wanted, in 2015.

There is some justification for ending Spitzer’s funding early, as the spacecraft’s cameras have lost their ability to stay as cold as designed to do their full range of infrared observations.