Letter of Request

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Headquarters Washington, DC 20546-001

SEP 11 2006

Reply to Attn of: SMD/Astrophysics Division

Dr. Lennard A. Fisk


Space Studies Board

National Research Council

500 5th Street NW Washington, DC 20001

Dear Dr. Fisk:

I request that the National Research Council’s Space Studies Board, in partnership with the Board on Physics and Astronomy, submit a proposal for the purpose of providing an assessment of the missions comprising the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s Beyond Einstein Program. This assessment, performed on behalf of NASA and the Department of Energy, would include a recommendation regarding which of these missions should be lauched fist, bases on the criteria given below. This study would also be used by NASA Headquarters as input for future decisions regarding the support and sequencing of the remaining Beyond Einstein missions, should such information be needed before the recommendations of the next Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey become available. We would require a report from such a study by September 8, 2007, to support our budget formulation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009.

The Beyond Einstein Program is defined in the NASA roadmap document Beyond Einstein: From the Big Bang to to Black Holes (2003). It was developed with broad community input, and was informed by the recommendations of the National Research Council (NRC) Decadal Survey, Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium (2001), and the NRC report Connectiong Quarks with the Cosmos (2003). Additional support for the elements of the Beyond Einstein Program is found in the National Science and Technology Council’s report of the Interagency Working Group on the Physics of the Universe, A 21st Century Frontier of Discoveru: The Physics of the Universe (2004). The goal of this program is to explore the physics of the Universe, with and emphasis on the physics of cosmogeny and gravity/spacetime.

The beyond Einstein Program mission suite relevant to this study consists of two Einstein Observatiories, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) and Constellation-X (Con-X), and three Einstein Probes, the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM), the inflation Probe, and the Black Hole Finder Probe.

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