Press Release

NASA Selects UA Astronomer’s Telescope Idea for Future Study

By SpaceRef Editor
July 30, 2004
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NASA has selected nine studies to investigate new ideas for future mission
concepts within its Astronomical Search for Origins Program, the U.S. space
agency announced today.

Rodger Thompson’s Galaxy Evolution and Origins Probe (GEOP) is among the new
mission ideas selected for further study. Thompson is a University of
Arizona astronomy professor and principal investigator for NICMOS, the
Hubble Space Telescope’s infrared instrument.

Thompson’s concept is an imaging telescope in space that observes
ultraviolet, optical and near-infrared light of the most distant galaxies in
the universe. It will observe 1,000 times more area than the Ultra Deep
Field image recently produced by the Hubble Space Telescope. It will also
observe deeper into the universe than the Hubble.

“GEOP is designed to trace the evolution of matter from a hot gas in the
early universe to the galaxies, stars, and planets we know today,” Thompson

The Arizona concept allows the telescope to make simultaneous images in
different colors (or wavelengths), greatly improving its efficiency,
Thompson said. The preliminary design is for a 3-meter (10-foot) diameter
telescope, which is larger than the Hubble Space Telescope.

The products from all nine chosen concept studies will be used for future
planning of missions complementing the existing suite of operating missions,
including the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, and developmental
missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope and Terrestrial Planet
Finder, the NASA news announcement said.

Each of the selected studies will have eight months to further develop and
refine concepts for missions addressing different aspects of Origins Program
science. The Origins Program seeks to address the fundamental questions:
“How did we get here?” and “Are we alone?” NASA received 26 proposals in
response to this call for mission concepts.

Other proposals selected for further study and their principal investigators

  • BLISS: Revealing the Nature of the Far-IR Universe, Matt Bradford, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Origins Billion Star Survey (OBSS), Kenneth Johnston, U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington.
  • The Space Infrared Interferometric Telescope (SPIRIT), David Leisawitz, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Cosmic Inflation Probe (CIP), Gary Melnick, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Mass.
  • HORUS: High ORbit Ultraviolet-visible Satellite, Jon Morse, Arizona State University, Tempe.
  • Hubble Origins Probe, Colin Norman, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
  • The Astrobiology SPace InfraRed Explorer (ASPIRE) Mission: A Concept Mission to Understand the Role Cosmic Organics Play in the Origin of Life, Scott Sandford, Ames Research Center,Moffett Field, Calif.
  • The Baryonic Structure Probe, Kenneth Sembach, SpaceTelescope Science Institute, Baltimore.

More information on NASA’s Origins Program is available on the Internet at:

SpaceRef staff editor.