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Session 71 - Space Astronomy in the Next Millennium.
Display session, Wednesday, January 17
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center
In 1990, the Bahcall report recommended that a moderate cost astrometric interferometer mission, AIM, be started in the 1990's. SIM is an interferometric mission that NASA has selected to fill that role. SIM is derived from a mission that has been studied at JPL for the past 6 years, the OSI mission. OSI was originally designed to perform ultra-precise global astrometry with a limited imaging capability. SIM, in the spirit of new NASA missions, will use new technologies to significantly lower the mission cost.
SIM, in addition, is designed to validate some of the technologies for future NASA missions such as a large IR interferometer to detect the light from Earth-like planets around nearby stars. One of those technologies is extendable structures. This technology, long in use by DoD missions, and planned to be heavily used in future NASA missions, will enable long interferometric baselines in space in very compact packages. Long baselines in compact packages offers potentially significant cost reductions by 1) reducing the needed thermal stability and accuracy of the laser metrology while maintaining the angular astrometric accuracy, 2) use of a smaller launch vehicle. The longer baseline will provide SIM with an order of magnitude increase in imaging angular resolution over HST.
Program listing for Wednesday