In January 2013, the NASA Astrophysics Division initiated the formation of two Science and Technology Definition Teams (STDTs) to study probe-scale (cost less than $1B) mission concepts for the direct detection of extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. The STDTs were supported by a Design Team staffed by the Exoplanet Exploration Program. One STDT studied a concept based on a telescope with an internal coronagraph capable of generating the ultra-high contrast images needed for planet detection. This concept borrowed a great deal from the sub $1B Kepler design to control cost. The second study looked at two concepts using a pair of spacecraft flying in formation - a telescope and an external occulter (starshade). The first concept contained a complete end-to-end, two-spacecraft concept using commercial busses and a commercial telescope, at a cost slightly above the $1B target. The second starshade concept launched only the starshade spacecraft as an add-on to an existing space telescope mission. This second concept was significantly under the probe-class cost target. These studies are now complete and are summarized in their Final Reports, now available through the links below on this page.
STDT Final Reports
Dear Colleague Letter -1/4/2013
External Occulter STDT Membership5/2/2013 - Chair: Sara Seager (MIT)
Internal Coronagraph STDT Membership - 5/2/2013 - Chair: Karl Stapelfeldt (GSFC)
Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA) Meeting - March 3-5, 2014