Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What Is Dark Energy? 'Beyond Einstein' Program Aims To Investigate

Date:
September 10, 2007
Source:
The National Academies
Summary:
NASA and the US Department of Energy should pursue the Joint Dark Energy Mission as the first mission in the "Beyond Einstein" program, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Beyond Einstein is NASA's research roadmap for five proposed mission areas to study the most compelling questions at the intersection of physics and astronomy.

SNAP, the SuperNova/Acceleration Probe, is one of three concepts competing for NASA and DOE's Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM).
Credit: Image courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy should pursue the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) as the first mission in the "Beyond Einstein" program, according to a new report from the National Research Council.

Beyond Einstein is NASA's research roadmap for five proposed mission areas to study the most compelling questions at the intersection of physics and astronomy.

The committee that wrote the report added that another proposed mission to detect gravitational waves using the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) should eventually become the flagship mission of Beyond Einstein, given that it is likely to provide an entirely new way to observe the universe. However, LISA needs more testing before a launch can be planned, whereas the Joint Dark Energy Mission is ready now for a competitive selection of mission concept proposals.

Prompted by Congress and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, NASA and DOE asked the committee to assess the five proposed mission areas and recommend one for first development and launch. NASA's Beyond Einstein program, set to begin in 2009, is comprised of two astronomical observatories, Constellation-X and LISA, as well as a series of probes: the Inflation Probe (IP), the Black Hole Finder Probe (BHFP), and JDEM.

"All of the mission areas in the Beyond Einstein program have the potential to fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe," said committee co-chair Charles F. Kennel, distinguished professor and director of the Environment and Sustainability Initiative at the University of California, San Diego. "But JDEM will provide direct insight into a key Beyond Einstein science question, and is the most technically feasible option for immediate development."

Of particular interest to researchers is whether the acceleration of the expansion of the universe varies over time. So far, three specific mission plans have been studied in this area: the Supernova Acceleration Probe (SNAP), the Dark Energy Space Telescope (DESTINY), and the Advanced Dark Energy Physics Telescope (ADEPT), but the eventual JDEM could be any one of the three or be based on a different option altogether.

The committee found that the underlying technology for a dark energy mission is, for the most part, in the prototype phase, and will require less development than most of the other missions. The potential gains for JDEM also outweigh its scientific risks, such as the possibility that the mission may not provide substantial insight beyond that provided by telescopes on the ground. The report recommends that NASA and DOE proceed immediately with a competition for mission proposals that will investigate the nature of dark energy with high precision.

The committee also recommended that NASA invest additional Beyond Einstein funds in technology development of the LISA program. LISA, which is funded through a partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), is designed to detect gravitational waves arising from, among other phenomena, the merging of black holes.

The committee found that LISA will open up new ways of observing the universe, but must await results from ESA's "LISA Pathfinder" mission first. Scheduled for launch in 2009, LISA Pathfinder will test many of the new technologies required for the LISA program. Yet, some critical technologies, such as extended use of micro-Newton thruster technology, will not be tested. The report recommends that the development of these technologies should be a high priority for the Beyond Einstein program.

The report indicates that the three elements of Beyond Einstein that are not being recommended for immediate implementation are still important endeavors that should receive continued support. The committee found that because the Constellation-X mission is a general-purpose x-ray observatory capable of broad contributions to astrophysics, it should be funded and assessed in a broader context than the Beyond Einstein program.

The Black Hole Finder Probe and Inflation Probe missions will also make important scientific contributions; however, because of scope and technical readiness issues, they fell behind JDEM and LISA. The committee recommended that Constellation-X, Black Hole Finder Probe, and Inflation Probe receive continued support to prepare them for the next decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics.

The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The National Academies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The National Academies. "What Is Dark Energy? 'Beyond Einstein' Program Aims To Investigate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070906140741.htm>.
The National Academies. (2007, September 10). What Is Dark Energy? 'Beyond Einstein' Program Aims To Investigate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070906140741.htm
The National Academies. "What Is Dark Energy? 'Beyond Einstein' Program Aims To Investigate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070906140741.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) — Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins