Space Dynamics Lab Proposal One of Four Selected

April 25, 2002

LOGAN — Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory, (SDL) is teamed with NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab on NGSS (Next Generation Sky Survey), one of four MIDEX (Medium-Class Explorer) proposals recently selected by NASA for a funded preliminary design study.

"The MIDEX program provides an excellent opportunity to explore fundamental questions of science and technology," said Dr. Ed Weiler, associate administrator for space science at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "The missions we've chosen fully support NASA's vision to understand and protect our home planet, to explore the universe and to search for life."

Last year NASA advertised the opportunity for the science community to propose MIDEX projects that will be funded and launched by NASA. The four proposals with the best science value were selected from 42 submitted. After the preliminary designs for the first phase are submitted, two will be chosen to build and launch.

SDL will be building the instrument for the NGSS project, which is an infrared telescope that will survey and map the universe. Using infrared, the telescope will be able to see light emissions from heat generated by stars, and planets, and may ultimately discover the brightest galaxies in the cosmos.

"Our knowledge about the evolution of the galaxies, stars and planets will be tremendously enhanced by the information that will be transmitted to earth by the NGSS instrument," said Harry Ames, SDL's deputy director for engineering and programs.

According to Ames, this potential $180 million project will be the first all-sky mission to be flown with state-of the-art sensors this decade. SDL is a world leader in highly sensitive infrared telescope systems. A similar infrared telescope built by SDL was SPIRT III (Spatial Infrared Imaging Telescope), flown in 1996. It was a highly successful mission that provided the highest resolution mid-infrared maps of the central region of our galaxy.

Should SDL receive the opportunity to build and launch NGSS, the program would represent approximately $37 million in revenue and would occupy 35 scientists, engineers and support personnel at the Laboratory.