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Session 72 - Proposed Space Missions.
Display session, Wednesday, January 17
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center
In 18 years as a NASA observatory IUE has generated more than 10^5 spectra and 3000 articles, hosted over 2000 guest observers and launched more than 200 doctoral dissertations. On 1 October 1995 science operations were transferred entirely to ESA. IUE has been a central facility in many multiwavelength programs. It has also supported HST by carrying out projects that require more dedicated time than HST can accomodate, including the ability to carry out uninterrupted observations. Ready access to the UV spectrum has become a routine part of modern astronomical capability, especially with respect to surveying classes of objects and monitoring for variability and cycles. A feasibility study has been initiated in the Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory and the Optical Sciences Laboratory to examine an upgraded IUE-2 to be developed in partnership with the Vavilov State Optical Institute of St. Petersburg, Russia. The Vavilov Institute is the premier space optics facility in the former Soviet Union. The recent ``swords into plowshares'' industrial partnership with Vavilov and cost-effective capabilities involving commercial boosters such as LLV-2 and a version of the Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite (CRSS) bus open innovative new opportunities for developing scientific facilities in space. We are also investigating the economics of a shared launch on the large capacity Proton rocket now operated jointly at the Baikonur complex in Kazakhstan by Lockheed Martin, Khrunichev Enterprises and NPO Energia. The centerpiece of IUE-2 would be a lightweight, advanced techology silicon carbide mirror up to 1.2 m in diameter coupled to modern imaging detectors. The Vavilov Institute has developed a robust ceramic material of remarkable specific rigidity and thermal stability that shows no distortion or hysteresis when thermally cycled between cryogenic and room temperatures. Mirrors are routinely polished to 0.03 waves in the visible. Spectroscopic capabilities would be similar to the current IUE. The CRSS spacecraft provides 10 GBytes of onboard data storage. In the interest of cost-savings, a highly eccentric Exosat-like elliptical orbit is under consideration to provide uninterrupted viewing times of at least 12 hours. This study, now underway, will examine innovative ways in which a science-driven program can be successfully developed and provided to NASA as a purchased commercial product. Inputs are solicited, especially from IUE guest observers and potentially interested IUE-2 users.
Program listing for Wednesday