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Session 35 - Proposed Instruments and Programs.
Display session, Tuesday, June 09
Atlas Ballroom,

[35.07] The Radio Imaging Galactic and Heliospheric Telescope (RIGHT)Explorer Mission Proposal

D. L. Jones (JPL), RIGHT MIDEX Propoal Team (GSFC, NRL, NRAO, STScI, U.Md., VPI, ISU, Haystack, U.Tas. (Australia), U.Glasgow (UK), Paris Obs. (France), RRI (India), IRA (Ukraine))

The RIGHT mission will produce the first high resolution images of the radio sky at frequencies below the earth's ionosphere cutoff. The mission will consist of 16 small satellites distributed in a sphere 100 km in diameter and located about 2 million km from earth. Each satellite includes a low frequency antenna and receiver, and together the 16 satellites form an aperture synthesis interferometer array. The spherical configuration allows all directions to be imaged simultaneously with high angular resolution.

The wide spectral window between several tens of kHz and several tens of MHz is nearly unexplored with sufficient angular resolution to identify individual sources of emission. At these low frequencies the radio sky will appear very different than it does at higher frequencies for three reasons: 1) coherent emission processes which produce extremely high brightness temperatures are far more common at low frequencies, 2) the radiative lifetimes of electrons emitting synchrotron radiation at low frequencies in typical galactic and extragalactic magnetic fields is a large fraction of the age of the universe, so very ancient sources can remain detectable, and 3) radiation is more strongly absorbed by diffuse plasma at low frequencies. Because these effects are highly frequency dependent, the unique information available through their study can only be obtained with low frequency radio observations.

The RIGHT mission offers an opportunity to explore a new, wide window of the electromagnetic spectrum with high angular resolution for the first time, and at a total cost well below the medium-class explorer program limits. In addition to addressing critical issues in the Structure and Evolution of the Universe and the Sun-Earth Connection theme areas, the RIGHT mission explores such a large parameter space that unexpected discoveries are likely.

Program listing for Tuesday