2 August 2014 Breakthrough capability for UVOIR space astronomy: reaching the darkest sky
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Abstract
We describe how availability of new solar electric propulsion (SEP) technology can substantially increase the science capability of space astronomy missions working within the near-UV to far-infrared (UVOIR) spectrum by making dark sky orbits accessible for the first time. We present two case studies in which SEP is used to enable a 700 kg Explorer-class and 7000 kg flagship-class observatory payload to reach an orbit beyond where the zodiacal dust limits observatory sensitivity. The resulting scientific performance advantage relative to a Sun-Earth L2 point (SEL2) orbit is presented and discussed. We find that making SEP available to astrophysics Explorers can enable this small payload program to rival the science performance of much larger long development-time systems. Similarly, we find that astrophysics utilization of high power SEP being developed for the Asteroid Redirect Robotics Mission (ARRM) can have a substantial impact on the sensitivity performance of heavier flagship-class astrophysics payloads such as the UVOIR successor to the James Webb Space Telescope.
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Matthew A. Greenhouse, Scott W. Benson, Jacob Englander, Robert D. Falck, Dale J. Fixsen, Jonathan P. Gardner, Jeffrey W. Kruk, Steven R. Oleson, Harley A. Thronson, "Breakthrough capability for UVOIR space astronomy: reaching the darkest sky", Proc. SPIE 9143, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 914317 (2 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2055340; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2055340
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