NASA SBIR Select 2015 Program Solicitation Details | SBIR Select Research Topics

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    • + Expand Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Select Subtopics Topic

      Topic H20 Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Select Subtopics PDF

      • 55458

        H20.01Solid and Liquid Waste Management for Human Spacecraft

        Lead Center: JSC

        Participating Center(s): ARC, KSC, MSFC

        Innovations are needed in management of solid and liquid wastes to increase closure of ECLS systems by further recycling of water and to increase stability of wastes on long duration human exploration missions. Management systems are needed to enhance collection and safe handling of wastes and allow… Read more>>

        Innovations are needed in management of solid and liquid wastes to increase closure of ECLS systems by further recycling of water and to increase stability of wastes on long duration human exploration missions. Management systems are needed to enhance collection and safe handling of wastes and allow for robust means of water recovery and storage. Traditionally collection and processing are treated as discrete systems that require significant crew interactions and equipment/consumables to allow water recovery. Future space craft will have limited volume and management of human and life support wastes must be improved. Waste management gaps exist in processing fecal waste, trash, hygiene waste, and residual urine brines (85% of water removed). Future waste systems should utilize features that do not require dynamic liquid separation, are highly tolerant of precipitation and solids accumulation, have limited crew interaction, and minimize off gassed compounds during processing or storage. Processing technologies should recover thermal energy where feasible and be able to operate with irregular time intervals or long quiescent periods between waste inputs. Waste management components and systems are desired to enhance, improve, or integrate existing HEOMD and STMD technologies such as the Universal Waste Management System (toilet), Heat Melt Compactor (solid waste processor that can heat compact and provide water recovery), Urine Processing Systems (Cascade Distillation, Vapor Compression Distillation), and Brine processors. Proposals in the following key technologies are requested.

        Human Solid Waste Management

        Human fecal waste (mixed solid, diarrheal, wipes, and hygiene products) is currently entrained with air and collected into bags which are stored in rigid containers. The rigid containers require significant logistical volume and do not allow water recovery. There is a need for collection bags and containers that require minimal crew manipulation and allow or facilitate the recovery of water from the mixed solid waste. The bag, container, and processing components must allow recovery of greater than 90% of the water, control odors, and prevent microbial releases beyond the container during and after processing. Specific challenges include components for urine and fecal odor control, water condensation and separation of high organic/high microbial population fluids, and minimal consumable mass per defecation. Commonality or capability to process mixed non-human solid waste or brine waste is desirable but not required.

        Water Recovery from Brine

        Brine is currently produced as the concentrate from distillation of urine and humidity condensate. Future mission wastewater could include hygiene and laundry sources. Brines may contain about 15% dissolved solids at a pH of about 2 with hazardous treatment chemicals such as oxone, sulfuric acid, and chromic acid, depending on pretreatment chemicals used. Processes are desired that can recover roughly 90% of the residual water from the brine while containing the hazardous brine residual and avoiding risk of residual release to the cabin.

        Phase I Deliverables - Detailed analysis, proof of concept test data, and predicted performance. Deliverables should clearly describe and predict how performance of targeted spacecraft and commercial systems are enhanced, improved, or integrated with the proposed technology.

        Phase II Deliverables - Delivery of technologically mature components/subsystems that demonstrate physical processes are required. For NASA applications, near flight-like configuration is requested. Hardware designs should allow integration to or with the above NASA systems, compatible with resources from an EXPRESS rack or similar ISS facility. Systems requiring resources significantly beyond the capability of and ISS EXPRESS rack are not desired without clear identification of a significant performance benefit. Although suitable for commercial applications, delivery of a standalone ground-based Benchtop subsystem would not be appropriate for flight applications unless justified.   

        Read less>>
        • Q What is the electrical budget for such a system? Electrolysis will work for urine, fecal matter and brine but will have a significant electrical requirement. The hydrogen and oxygen produced by the electrolysis can be burned to produce pure water.

          A The ISS utilizes electrolysis of water to produce breathing oxygen and the hydrogen is used in reactions with carbon dioxide to produce additional water. At maximum power the Oxygen Generation System consumes about 2.5 kW. The power systems for future human exploration missions are not yet defined.  Generally, when performing technology selection for future exploration missions, one considers all costs, resource requirements, and benefits.  For example, where some technologies may require higher power, they still may trade well if they recover energy and/or have lower requirements for other resources, such as volume or mass, or produce other consumables.  When considering power consumption, estimates of specific energy usage are of interest, such as W-hr per kg of material treated and W-hr per kg water produced. Ground hardware configurations for proof of concept may require more electrical power but proposal should consider practical limits present in space flight.  In practice technology demonstrations on the Internal Space Station will likely occur in an EXPRESS rack with electrical power limits of 500 average and 1,000 W peak.  Proposal submittals should indicate what the estimated power of the phase I will be and how the scale of the phase I would relate to a full scale flight experiment.  Beyond an initial flight experiment, a full scale system should use no more than about 2,500 W.  

    • + Expand Science Mission Directorate Select Subtopics Topic

      Topic S20 Science Mission Directorate Select Subtopics PDF

      • 55459

        S20.01Novel Spectroscopy Technology and Instrumentation

        Lead Center: GSFC

        Participating Center(s): JPL

        Passive remote sensing of the Earth provides essential observations of the properties needed to address NASA Earth Science objectives. Observations of climate-related phenomenon such as greenhouse gas (GHG) abundance, soil moisture (SM), and ice properties are required in the next few years. New… Read more>>

        Passive remote sensing of the Earth provides essential observations of the properties needed to address NASA Earth Science objectives. Observations of climate-related phenomenon such as greenhouse gas (GHG) abundance, soil moisture (SM), and ice properties are required in the next few years. New technologies in infrared and microwave passive sensing that reduce the size and cost of instrumentation are needed. It is expected that a Phase I demonstrate a proof of concept and a Phase II deliver a working instrument or component.

        Focus area 1 - Compact high-resolution infrared spectrometer-based instrumentation to measure GHG column abundance. Measurements are needed to determine GHG budgets and to validate space-based measurements of CO2 and CH4. Instruments with the capability of measuring the column abundance of CO2 and CH4 with precision and accuracy <0.5% are needed. Additional information, including other GHG’s (N2O, H2O) and measurement information (profile abundance) are also useful.

        Ground-based instrumentation with low or modest cost for deploying to multiple measurement locations is desired. Potential technologies include compact high-resolution grating based spectroscopy, heterodyne spectroscopy, Fabry-Perot based spectrometers, and Fourier transform spectroscopy. The performance of the new technology must compare favorably with the existing state of the art such as the spectrometers in the TCCON network (https://tccon-wiki.caltech.edu).

        Focus area 2 - Reflectometry using existing terrestrial or space borne (GEO) transmitters as signal of opportunities. Microwave reflectometry applications include measurements of soil moisture, ocean altimetry, and ice properties, Root Zone Soil Moisture (RZSM) as well as others using airborne as well as space borne platforms.

        The this SBIR select topic seeks development of multi-channel GNSS receiver technology for airborne demonstration of BSAR (Bi-Static Synthetic Aperture Radar) for Earth science measurement using GNSS reflectometry with following specifications: 

        • Multi-Channels GNSS receiver: One Channel to receive direct signal and other channels to receive reflected signal.
        • Bandwidth: 20 MHz.
        • Antenna array confirmable with NASA’s manned /unmanned aircraft.
        • SAR Processing Algorithms.

        Focus area 3 - Compact radiometers from GHz to THz to measure GHG's from small satellites. The existing radiometers for space applications have more than 10 kg in mass and require more than 30 W to operate the RF and readout electronics. For future space applications it is necessary to reduce mass and power. To focus the technology development it is desired to develop compact microwave radiometers to measure GHG's (for example water vapor concentrations around 185 GHz) in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) for deployment on CubeSat and other small satellite applications.   

        Read less>>
        • Q For Focus Area 1: Can active sensors be used, or are passive approaches required?

          A This {solicitation} is for passive sensors only.  The sensors can use, for example, the sun as a light source.  Microwave sensors can use a signal of opportunity from a source that is not part of the instrument.

        • Q For Focus Area 1: what kind of integration time do you want in order to achieve the precisions you are asking for the compact high resolution infrared spectrometer?

          A There is no absolute time response required.  The measurements are most useful when they can provide a validation of a satellite instrument like OCO-2. The time response for a useful inter comparison is several minutes to less than an hour.    

      • 55460

        S20.02Advanced Technology Telescope for Balloon and Sub-Orbital Missions

        Lead Center: MSFC

        Participating Center(s): GSFC, JPL

        The purpose of this subtopic is to mature demonstrated component level technologies (TRL4) to demonstrated system level technologies (TRL6) by using them to manufacture complete telescope systems which will fly on a high-altitude balloon or sub-orbital rocket mission. Examples of desired… Read more>>

        The purpose of this subtopic is to mature demonstrated component level technologies (TRL4) to demonstrated system level technologies (TRL6) by using them to manufacture complete telescope systems which will fly on a high-altitude balloon or sub-orbital rocket mission. Examples of desired technological advances relative to the current state of the art include, but are not limited to: 

        • Reduce the areal cost of telescope by 2X to 4X such that larger collecting areas can be produced for the same cost or current collecting areas can be produced for half the cost.
        • Reduce the areal density of telescopes by 2X to 4X such that the same aperture telescopes have half the mass of current state of art telescope (less mass enables longer duration flights) for no increase in cost.
        • Improve thermal/mechanical wavefront stability and/or pointing stability by 2X to 10X.

        Technological maturation will be demonstrated by building one or more complete telescope assemblies which can be flown on potential long duration balloon or sub-orbital rocket experiments to do high priority science. While proposals will be accepted for potential missions that cover any spectral range from x-rays to far-infrared/sub-millimeter, this year’s sub-topic is soliciting proposal specifically for (see Section 3 for details): 

        • Ultra-Stable 1-meter Class UVOIR Telescope.
          • Exoplanet Mission Telescope.
          • Planetary Mission Telescope.
          • Infrared Interferometry Mission Telescope.
        • Balloon Gondola with Precision Pointing System.

        Successful proposals shall provide a credible plan to deliver for the allocated budget a fully assembled and tested telescope assembly which can be integrated into a potential balloon or sub-orbital mission to meet a high-priority NASA science objective. Successful proposals will demonstrate an understanding of how the engineering specifications of their telescope meet the performance requirements and operational constraints of a potential balloon or sub-orbital rocket science mission.

        Phase I delivery shall be a reviewed preliminary design and manufacturing plan which demonstrates feasibility. While detailed analysis will be conducted in Phase II, the preliminary design should address how optical, mechanical (static and dynamic) and thermal designs and performance analysis will be done to show compliance with all requirements. Past experience or technology demonstrations which support the design and manufacturing plans will be given appropriate weight in the evaluation.

        Phase II delivery shall be a completely assembled and tested telescope assembly ready to be integrated into a potential balloon or sub-orbital rocket mission payload. For a potential balloon mission, the telescopes must be designed to survive 150K to 330K temperature range and 10G shock. For a potential sub-orbital rocket mission, the telescope must be designed to survive nominal temperature range and nominal shock. The mass budgets for each telescope are nominal. Testing shall confirm compliance of the telescope assembly with its requirements.

        Please note: all offerors are highly encouraged to team with a potential user for their telescope and include that individual in their proposal as a science mission co-investigator.

        NASA Relevance

        The 2010 National Academy Astro2010 Decadal Report recommended increased use of sub-orbital balloon-borne observatories. Two specific needs include: 

        • Far-IR telescope systems for Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) studies.
        • Optical/NIR telescope systems for Dark Matter and/or Exo-Planet studies.

        Additionally, Astro2010 identifies optical components as key technologies needed to enable several different future missions, including: 

        • Light-weight x-ray imaging mirrors for future very large advanced x-ray observatories.
        • Large aperture, light-weight mirrors for future UV/Optical telescopes.

         The 2012 National Academy report “NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities” states that one of the top technical challenges in which NASA should invest over the next 5 years is developing a new generation of larger effective aperture, lower-cost astronomical telescopes that enable discovery of habitable planets, facilitate advances in solar physics, and enable the study of faint structures around bright objects. To enable this capability requires low-cost, ultra-stable, large-aperture, normal and grazing incidence mirrors with low mass-to-collecting area ratios. To enable these new astronomical telescopes, the report identifies three specific optical systems technologies: 

        • Active align/control of grazing-incidence imaging systems to achieve < 1 arc-second angular resolution.
        • Active align/control of normal-incidence imaging systems to achieve 500 nm diffraction limit (40 nm rms wavefront error, WFE) performance.
        • Normal incidence 4-meter (or larger) diameter 5 nm rms WFE (300 nm system diffraction limit) mirrors.

        Technical Challenges

        Scientists continue to develop new, more sophisticated experiments for flight on high-altitude balloons and sub-orbital rockets. These include new large single aperture telescopes and interferometers. These experiments require large, light weight, low cost optics, with well-behaved properties over a wide temperature range. For experiments in the infrared, there are currently several material options available, including glass, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Each of these has both advantages and disadvantages. Glass mirrors have a long heritage, and are generally relatively cost effective. Unfortunately, they also tend to be fairly massive without sophisticated light-weighting, which significantly raises cost. Aluminum mirrors are suitable for long-wavelength applications, and have the major advantage that all-aluminum structures holding the optics provide good thermal behavior. The disadvantage is that it is difficult to produce the very accurate optical figure with low surface roughness, such as needed for interferometers and for experiments in the ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared. As with glass mirrors, this problem can be solved by increasing cost. Carbon fiber mirrors can provide both the mirror quality and lightweight, but typically are still very expensive for large mirrors such as those needed for future balloon experiments. All of the above options have been used for balloon experiments, but increasing aperture sizes, and the need for multiple large optics for interferometers, is driving up the total cost of optics, such that ~10-20% of a new balloon budget can be spent on optics. Thus, new methods or materials for producing such optics at lower cost are needed.

        Ultra-Stable 1-meter Class UVOIR Telescope

        Multiple potential balloon missions to perform Astrophysics, Exoplanet and Planetary science investigations require a complete optical telescope system with 1 meter or larger of collecting aperture. 1-m class balloon-borne telescopes have flown successfully, however, the cost for design and contraction of such telescopes can exceed $6M, and the weight of these telescopes limits the scientific payload and duration of the balloon mission. A 4X reduction in cost and mass would enable missions which today are not feasible.

        Exoplanet Mission Telescope

        A potential exoplanet mission seeks a 1-m class wide-field telescope with diffraction-limited performance in the visible and a field of view > 0.5 degree. The telescope will operate over a temperature range of +10 to -70 C at an altitude of 35 km. It must survive temperatures as low as -80 C during ascent. The telescope should weigh less than 150 kg and is required to maintain diffraction-limited performance over: 

        • The entire temperature range.
        • Pitch range from 25 to 55 degrees elevation.
        • Azimuth range of 0 to 360 degrees.
        • Roll range of –10 to +10 degrees.

        The telescope will be used in conjunction with an existing high-performance pointing stabilization system.

        Planetary Mission Telescope

        A potential planetary balloon mission requires an optical telescope system with at least 1-meter aperture for UV, visible, near- and mid-IR imaging and multi/hyperspectral imaging, with the following optical, mechanical and operational requirements:

        Optical Requirements: 

        • ≥ 1-meter clear aperture.
        • Diffraction-limited performance at wavelengths ≥ 0.5 μm over entire FOV.
        • System focal length: 14.052-meters.
        • Wavelength range: 0.3 – 1.0 μm and 2.5 – 5.0 μm.
        • Field of view: 60 arc-sec in 0.3 – 1.0 μm band, 180 arc-sec in 2.5 – 5.0 μm band.
        • Straylight rejection ratio ≥ 1e-6.

        Mechanical/Operational Requirements: 

        • Overall length: ≤ 2.75 meters.
        • Overall diameter: ≤ 1.25 meters.
        • Mass: ≤ 300 kg.
        • Temperature: -80 to +50°C.
        • Humidity: ≤ 95% RH (non-condensing).
        • Pressure: sea level to 1 micron Hg.

        Shock: 

        • 10G without damage.

        Elevation angle range: 

        • 0° to 70° operating, -90° to + 90° non-operating.

        Other Requirements: 

        • Must allow field disassembly with standard hand tools.
        • Maximum mass of any sub-assembly < 90 kg.
        • Largest sub-assembly must pass through rectangular opening 56 by 50 inches (1.42 by 1.27 meters).

        Infrared Interferometry Mission Telescope

        A balloon-borne interferometry mission requires 0.5 meter class telescopes with siderostat steering flat mirror. There are several technologies which can be used for production of mirrors for balloon projects (aluminum, carbon fiber, glass, etc.), but they are high mass and high cost.

        Balloon Gondala with Precision Pointing System

        A potential exoplanet mission seeks a gondola that can interface with a stratospheric balloon (such as one provided by CSBF). The gondola shall be able to operate for at least 24hrs at a float altitude of at least 35Km; and 3-5hrs during the ascent from ground to altitude. It must be able to point a 1 m class telescope (including back end optics and with a mass of 150kg) at a specific target and stabilize it along its three axes to 2 arc-seconds or better on each axis (1 sigma). The pointing accuracy shall be 1/2 deg or better during the day and 1 arc minute or better during the night (1 sigma). The required pitch range of motion is 25 to 55 deg elevation, the azimuth range of is 0 to 360 deg, and the roll range of motion is –10 to +10 deg. The gondola maximum weight shall be 700 kg or less. 

        Read less>>
      • H20.01

        H20.01Solid and Liquid Waste Management for Human Spacecraft

        Lead Center: JSC

        Participating Center(s): ARC, KSC, MSFC

        Innovations are needed in management of solid and liquid wastes to increase closure of ECLS systems by further recycling of water and to increase stability of wastes on long duration human exploration missions. Management systems are needed to enhance collection and safe handling of wastes and allow… Read more>>

        Innovations are needed in management of solid and liquid wastes to increase closure of ECLS systems by further recycling of water and to increase stability of wastes on long duration human exploration missions. Management systems are needed to enhance collection and safe handling of wastes and allow for robust means of water recovery and storage. Traditionally collection and processing are treated as discrete systems that require significant crew interactions and equipment/consumables to allow water recovery. Future space craft will have limited volume and management of human and life support wastes must be improved. Waste management gaps exist in processing fecal waste, trash, hygiene waste, and residual urine brines (85% of water removed). Future waste systems should utilize features that do not require dynamic liquid separation, are highly tolerant of precipitation and solids accumulation, have limited crew interaction, and minimize off gassed compounds during processing or storage. Processing technologies should recover thermal energy where feasible and be able to operate with irregular time intervals or long quiescent periods between waste inputs. Waste management components and systems are desired to enhance, improve, or integrate existing HEOMD and STMD technologies such as the Universal Waste Management System (toilet), Heat Melt Compactor (solid waste processor that can heat compact and provide water recovery), Urine Processing Systems (Cascade Distillation, Vapor Compression Distillation), and Brine processors. Proposals in the following key technologies are requested.

        Human Solid Waste Management

        Human fecal waste (mixed solid, diarrheal, wipes, and hygiene products) is currently entrained with air and collected into bags which are stored in rigid containers. The rigid containers require significant logistical volume and do not allow water recovery. There is a need for collection bags and containers that require minimal crew manipulation and allow or facilitate the recovery of water from the mixed solid waste. The bag, container, and processing components must allow recovery of greater than 90% of the water, control odors, and prevent microbial releases beyond the container during and after processing. Specific challenges include components for urine and fecal odor control, water condensation and separation of high organic/high microbial population fluids, and minimal consumable mass per defecation. Commonality or capability to process mixed non-human solid waste or brine waste is desirable but not required.

        Water Recovery from Brine

        Brine is currently produced as the concentrate from distillation of urine and humidity condensate. Future mission wastewater could include hygiene and laundry sources. Brines may contain about 15% dissolved solids at a pH of about 2 with hazardous treatment chemicals such as oxone, sulfuric acid, and chromic acid, depending on pretreatment chemicals used. Processes are desired that can recover roughly 90% of the residual water from the brine while containing the hazardous brine residual and avoiding risk of residual release to the cabin.

        Phase I Deliverables - Detailed analysis, proof of concept test data, and predicted performance. Deliverables should clearly describe and predict how performance of targeted spacecraft and commercial systems are enhanced, improved, or integrated with the proposed technology.

        Phase II Deliverables - Delivery of technologically mature components/subsystems that demonstrate physical processes are required. For NASA applications, near flight-like configuration is requested. Hardware designs should allow integration to or with the above NASA systems, compatible with resources from an EXPRESS rack or similar ISS facility. Systems requiring resources significantly beyond the capability of and ISS EXPRESS rack are not desired without clear identification of a significant performance benefit. Although suitable for commercial applications, delivery of a standalone ground-based Benchtop subsystem would not be appropriate for flight applications unless justified.   

        Read less>>
      • S20.01

        S20.01Novel Spectroscopy Technology and Instrumentation

        Lead Center: GSFC

        Participating Center(s): JPL

        Passive remote sensing of the Earth provides essential observations of the properties needed to address NASA Earth Science objectives. Observations of climate-related phenomenon such as greenhouse gas (GHG) abundance, soil moisture (SM), and ice properties are required in the next few years. New… Read more>>

        Passive remote sensing of the Earth provides essential observations of the properties needed to address NASA Earth Science objectives. Observations of climate-related phenomenon such as greenhouse gas (GHG) abundance, soil moisture (SM), and ice properties are required in the next few years. New technologies in infrared and microwave passive sensing that reduce the size and cost of instrumentation are needed. It is expected that a Phase I demonstrate a proof of concept and a Phase II deliver a working instrument or component.

        Focus area 1 - Compact high-resolution infrared spectrometer-based instrumentation to measure GHG column abundance. Measurements are needed to determine GHG budgets and to validate space-based measurements of CO2 and CH4. Instruments with the capability of measuring the column abundance of CO2 and CH4 with precision and accuracy <0.5% are needed. Additional information, including other GHG’s (N2O, H2O) and measurement information (profile abundance) are also useful.

        Ground-based instrumentation with low or modest cost for deploying to multiple measurement locations is desired. Potential technologies include compact high-resolution grating based spectroscopy, heterodyne spectroscopy, Fabry-Perot based spectrometers, and Fourier transform spectroscopy. The performance of the new technology must compare favorably with the existing state of the art such as the spectrometers in the TCCON network (https://tccon-wiki.caltech.edu).

        Focus area 2 - Reflectometry using existing terrestrial or space borne (GEO) transmitters as signal of opportunities. Microwave reflectometry applications include measurements of soil moisture, ocean altimetry, and ice properties, Root Zone Soil Moisture (RZSM) as well as others using airborne as well as space borne platforms.

        The this SBIR select topic seeks development of multi-channel GNSS receiver technology for airborne demonstration of BSAR (Bi-Static Synthetic Aperture Radar) for Earth science measurement using GNSS reflectometry with following specifications: 

        • Multi-Channels GNSS receiver: One Channel to receive direct signal and other channels to receive reflected signal.
        • Bandwidth: 20 MHz.
        • Antenna array confirmable with NASA’s manned /unmanned aircraft.
        • SAR Processing Algorithms.

        Focus area 3 - Compact radiometers from GHz to THz to measure GHG's from small satellites. The existing radiometers for space applications have more than 10 kg in mass and require more than 30 W to operate the RF and readout electronics. For future space applications it is necessary to reduce mass and power. To focus the technology development it is desired to develop compact microwave radiometers to measure GHG's (for example water vapor concentrations around 185 GHz) in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) for deployment on CubeSat and other small satellite applications.   

        Read less>>
      • S20.02

        S20.02Advanced Technology Telescope for Balloon and Sub-Orbital Missions

        Lead Center: MSFC

        Participating Center(s): GSFC, JPL

        The purpose of this subtopic is to mature demonstrated component level technologies (TRL4) to demonstrated system level technologies (TRL6) by using them to manufacture complete telescope systems which will fly on a high-altitude balloon or sub-orbital rocket mission. Examples of desired… Read more>>

        The purpose of this subtopic is to mature demonstrated component level technologies (TRL4) to demonstrated system level technologies (TRL6) by using them to manufacture complete telescope systems which will fly on a high-altitude balloon or sub-orbital rocket mission. Examples of desired technological advances relative to the current state of the art include, but are not limited to: 

        • Reduce the areal cost of telescope by 2X to 4X such that larger collecting areas can be produced for the same cost or current collecting areas can be produced for half the cost.
        • Reduce the areal density of telescopes by 2X to 4X such that the same aperture telescopes have half the mass of current state of art telescope (less mass enables longer duration flights) for no increase in cost.
        • Improve thermal/mechanical wavefront stability and/or pointing stability by 2X to 10X.

        Technological maturation will be demonstrated by building one or more complete telescope assemblies which can be flown on potential long duration balloon or sub-orbital rocket experiments to do high priority science. While proposals will be accepted for potential missions that cover any spectral range from x-rays to far-infrared/sub-millimeter, this year’s sub-topic is soliciting proposal specifically for (see Section 3 for details): 

        • Ultra-Stable 1-meter Class UVOIR Telescope.
          • Exoplanet Mission Telescope.
          • Planetary Mission Telescope.
          • Infrared Interferometry Mission Telescope.
        • Balloon Gondola with Precision Pointing System.

        Successful proposals shall provide a credible plan to deliver for the allocated budget a fully assembled and tested telescope assembly which can be integrated into a potential balloon or sub-orbital mission to meet a high-priority NASA science objective. Successful proposals will demonstrate an understanding of how the engineering specifications of their telescope meet the performance requirements and operational constraints of a potential balloon or sub-orbital rocket science mission.

        Phase I delivery shall be a reviewed preliminary design and manufacturing plan which demonstrates feasibility. While detailed analysis will be conducted in Phase II, the preliminary design should address how optical, mechanical (static and dynamic) and thermal designs and performance analysis will be done to show compliance with all requirements. Past experience or technology demonstrations which support the design and manufacturing plans will be given appropriate weight in the evaluation.

        Phase II delivery shall be a completely assembled and tested telescope assembly ready to be integrated into a potential balloon or sub-orbital rocket mission payload. For a potential balloon mission, the telescopes must be designed to survive 150K to 330K temperature range and 10G shock. For a potential sub-orbital rocket mission, the telescope must be designed to survive nominal temperature range and nominal shock. The mass budgets for each telescope are nominal. Testing shall confirm compliance of the telescope assembly with its requirements.

        Please note: all offerors are highly encouraged to team with a potential user for their telescope and include that individual in their proposal as a science mission co-investigator.

        NASA Relevance

        The 2010 National Academy Astro2010 Decadal Report recommended increased use of sub-orbital balloon-borne observatories. Two specific needs include: 

        • Far-IR telescope systems for Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) studies.
        • Optical/NIR telescope systems for Dark Matter and/or Exo-Planet studies.

        Additionally, Astro2010 identifies optical components as key technologies needed to enable several different future missions, including: 

        • Light-weight x-ray imaging mirrors for future very large advanced x-ray observatories.
        • Large aperture, light-weight mirrors for future UV/Optical telescopes.

         The 2012 National Academy report “NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities” states that one of the top technical challenges in which NASA should invest over the next 5 years is developing a new generation of larger effective aperture, lower-cost astronomical telescopes that enable discovery of habitable planets, facilitate advances in solar physics, and enable the study of faint structures around bright objects. To enable this capability requires low-cost, ultra-stable, large-aperture, normal and grazing incidence mirrors with low mass-to-collecting area ratios. To enable these new astronomical telescopes, the report identifies three specific optical systems technologies: 

        • Active align/control of grazing-incidence imaging systems to achieve < 1 arc-second angular resolution.
        • Active align/control of normal-incidence imaging systems to achieve 500 nm diffraction limit (40 nm rms wavefront error, WFE) performance.
        • Normal incidence 4-meter (or larger) diameter 5 nm rms WFE (300 nm system diffraction limit) mirrors.

        Technical Challenges

        Scientists continue to develop new, more sophisticated experiments for flight on high-altitude balloons and sub-orbital rockets. These include new large single aperture telescopes and interferometers. These experiments require large, light weight, low cost optics, with well-behaved properties over a wide temperature range. For experiments in the infrared, there are currently several material options available, including glass, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Each of these has both advantages and disadvantages. Glass mirrors have a long heritage, and are generally relatively cost effective. Unfortunately, they also tend to be fairly massive without sophisticated light-weighting, which significantly raises cost. Aluminum mirrors are suitable for long-wavelength applications, and have the major advantage that all-aluminum structures holding the optics provide good thermal behavior. The disadvantage is that it is difficult to produce the very accurate optical figure with low surface roughness, such as needed for interferometers and for experiments in the ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared. As with glass mirrors, this problem can be solved by increasing cost. Carbon fiber mirrors can provide both the mirror quality and lightweight, but typically are still very expensive for large mirrors such as those needed for future balloon experiments. All of the above options have been used for balloon experiments, but increasing aperture sizes, and the need for multiple large optics for interferometers, is driving up the total cost of optics, such that ~10-20% of a new balloon budget can be spent on optics. Thus, new methods or materials for producing such optics at lower cost are needed.

        Ultra-Stable 1-meter Class UVOIR Telescope

        Multiple potential balloon missions to perform Astrophysics, Exoplanet and Planetary science investigations require a complete optical telescope system with 1 meter or larger of collecting aperture. 1-m class balloon-borne telescopes have flown successfully, however, the cost for design and contraction of such telescopes can exceed $6M, and the weight of these telescopes limits the scientific payload and duration of the balloon mission. A 4X reduction in cost and mass would enable missions which today are not feasible.

        Exoplanet Mission Telescope

        A potential exoplanet mission seeks a 1-m class wide-field telescope with diffraction-limited performance in the visible and a field of view > 0.5 degree. The telescope will operate over a temperature range of +10 to -70 C at an altitude of 35 km. It must survive temperatures as low as -80 C during ascent. The telescope should weigh less than 150 kg and is required to maintain diffraction-limited performance over: 

        • The entire temperature range.
        • Pitch range from 25 to 55 degrees elevation.
        • Azimuth range of 0 to 360 degrees.
        • Roll range of –10 to +10 degrees.

        The telescope will be used in conjunction with an existing high-performance pointing stabilization system.

        Planetary Mission Telescope

        A potential planetary balloon mission requires an optical telescope system with at least 1-meter aperture for UV, visible, near- and mid-IR imaging and multi/hyperspectral imaging, with the following optical, mechanical and operational requirements:

        Optical Requirements: 

        • ≥ 1-meter clear aperture.
        • Diffraction-limited performance at wavelengths ≥ 0.5 μm over entire FOV.
        • System focal length: 14.052-meters.
        • Wavelength range: 0.3 – 1.0 μm and 2.5 – 5.0 μm.
        • Field of view: 60 arc-sec in 0.3 – 1.0 μm band, 180 arc-sec in 2.5 – 5.0 μm band.
        • Straylight rejection ratio ≥ 1e-6.

        Mechanical/Operational Requirements: 

        • Overall length: ≤ 2.75 meters.
        • Overall diameter: ≤ 1.25 meters.
        • Mass: ≤ 300 kg.
        • Temperature: -80 to +50°C.
        • Humidity: ≤ 95% RH (non-condensing).
        • Pressure: sea level to 1 micron Hg.

        Shock: 

        • 10G without damage.

        Elevation angle range: 

        • 0° to 70° operating, -90° to + 90° non-operating.

        Other Requirements: 

        • Must allow field disassembly with standard hand tools.
        • Maximum mass of any sub-assembly < 90 kg.
        • Largest sub-assembly must pass through rectangular opening 56 by 50 inches (1.42 by 1.27 meters).

        Infrared Interferometry Mission Telescope

        A balloon-borne interferometry mission requires 0.5 meter class telescopes with siderostat steering flat mirror. There are several technologies which can be used for production of mirrors for balloon projects (aluminum, carbon fiber, glass, etc.), but they are high mass and high cost.

        Balloon Gondala with Precision Pointing System

        A potential exoplanet mission seeks a gondola that can interface with a stratospheric balloon (such as one provided by CSBF). The gondola shall be able to operate for at least 24hrs at a float altitude of at least 35Km; and 3-5hrs during the ascent from ground to altitude. It must be able to point a 1 m class telescope (including back end optics and with a mass of 150kg) at a specific target and stabilize it along its three axes to 2 arc-seconds or better on each axis (1 sigma). The pointing accuracy shall be 1/2 deg or better during the day and 1 arc minute or better during the night (1 sigma). The required pitch range of motion is 25 to 55 deg elevation, the azimuth range of is 0 to 360 deg, and the roll range of motion is –10 to +10 deg. The gondola maximum weight shall be 700 kg or less. 

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