A mission to discover the brightest galaxy in the universe is one of four proposals
selected by NASA as candidates for the next missions in the agency’s Explorer Program of
lower cost, highly focused, rapid-development scientific spacecraft. The mission is managed
by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

NASA has also decided to fund as a “Mission of Opportunity” U.S. participation in a
European Space Agency observatory on the International Space Station.

Following detailed mission concept studies, NASA intends to select two of the mission
proposals by early 2003 for full development as Medium-class Explorer flights. The two
missions developed for flight will be launched in 2007 and 2008.

“The Medium-class Explorer program provides an excellent opportunity to explore
fundamental questions of science and technology,” said Dr. Ed Weiler, associate administrator
for space science at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. “The missions we’ve chosen fully
support NASA’s vision to understand and protect our home planet, to explore the universe and
to search for life.”

The selected proposals were judged to have the best science value among 42 proposals
submitted to NASA in October 2001. Each will receive $450,000 ($25″ver000 for the Mission of
Opportunity) to conduct a four-month implementation feasibility study. The selected Medium-
Explorer proposals are:

— The Next Generation Sky Survey — an infrared telescope designed to survey the entire sky
with 1,000 times more sensitivity than previous missions. It would discover the brightest
galaxy and the closest star, or failed star, to the Sun. Currently, Alpha Centauri is the closest
known star system to the Sun. However, many scientists believe there may be brown dwarfs,
or failed stars, that are even closer. The survey would be led by Dr. Edward L. Wright of the
University of California, Los Angeles, at a total mission cost to NASA of $180 million. JPL
would manage the mission. Science operations and data processing would be handled by the
JPL/Caltech Infrared Processing and Analysis Center in Pasadena.

— The Astrobiology Explorer — a cryogenic telescope to determine the abundance, distribution
and identities of the chemical building blocks of life. The mission would measure interstellar
organic compounds and would be led by Dr. Scott Sandford of NASA’s Ames Research Center
in Moffett Field, Calif., at a total mission cost to NASA of $180 million.

— The Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms mission — a
study of the onset of magnetic storms within the tail of Earth’s magnetosphere. The mission
would fly five microsatellite probes through different regions of the magnetosphere and
observe the onset and evolution of storms. The mission would be led by Dr. Vassilis
Angelopoulos of the University of California, Berkeley, at a total mission cost to NASA of
$150 million.

— The Advanced Spectroscopic and Coronagraphic Explorer — solar telescopes that would
reveal the physical processes in the outer atmosphere of the Sun leading to the
solar wind and explosive coronal mass ejections. The mission would carry three solar
instruments 100 times better than previous coronal telescopes and would be led by Dr. John L.
Kohl of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Mass., at a total mission cost
to NASA of $177 million.

NASA also selected an investigation to be flown on the International Space Station in
partnership with the European Space Agency. At the end of the study, NASA will make a final
decision on participating in the European Space Agency-led mission. The Extreme Universe
Space Observatory would detect the highest-energy cosmic rays known by using the entire
Earth as a particle detector. As extremely energetic particles pass through Earth’s atmosphere
they emit a form of blue light that that would be observed by the Extreme Universe Space
Observatory’s large telescope from its vantage point on the International Space Station. The
Extreme Universe Space Observatory is under study by the European Space Agency for flight
on the Columbus module of the Space Station, and NASA would provide the large Fresnal lens
for the telescope. NASA’s contribution to the Extreme Universe Space Observatory would be
led by Dr. James H. Adams Jr. of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., at a
total mission cost to NASA of $21 million.

NASA also selected a proposed mission for technology-development funding of the
proposed instrument. Dr. Stephan S. Meyer of the University of Chicago will develop a
frequency-selective bolometer to study dusty galaxies in the early universe from a balloon-
borne telescope over Antarctica. Meyer will receive $500,000 over the next two years for his

The current Medium-explorer missions are the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora
Global Exploration, launched in March 2000, and the Microwave Anisotropy Probe, launched
in June 2001. The third Medium-explorer mission is the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer
which will be launched in September 2003. The Explorer Program is designed to provide
frequent, low-cost access to space for physics and astronomy missions with small to mid-sized
spacecraft. The Explorer Program is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, Md., for the Office of Space Science, Washington.

More information on the Explorer program is available at
http://fpd.gsfc.nasa.gov/410/index.html .

JPL is managed by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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