Signal types addressed include electromagnetic waves across the spectrum from X rays to sub-mm, as well as gravitational waves (GWs). Since future exoplanet observatories will observe across the UVOIR spectrum, coronagraph and starshade projects are deemed here to address that broad band. Several projects target more than one signal type and were thus double- or triple-counted here.
Technology areas funded by NASA include detectors, optics, coronagraphs, electronics, telescopes, starshades, optical coatings, and five others. Detectors, optics, and coronagraphs account for 66% of these projects.
Each of the 142 projects supports at least one strategic mission or concept*, and many support more than one. Thus, the number of technology applications is 165 (SOFIA, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy; LISA, Laser Interferometer Space Antenna; ATHENA, Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics).”
* Strategic astrophysics missions are usually large, multi-purpose observatories that NASA Astrophysics is developing, participating in, or interested in, to respond to high-priority science questions or mandates. These missions are generally assigned to a NASA center to implement, with science instruments and platform components selected through open competition.
The SAT program matures technologies across the mid-TRL gap, so they can be infused into strategic missions and/or enable international collaboration on projects relevant to Program goals. These technologies are also available for infusion into Explorers, suborbital missions, and ground-based experiments.
2021 PCOS/COR TRL Advances (PI-Asserted Unless Marked as Vetted by Program Office)
Most PIs leverage SAT funding to generate matching internal R&D funding; fellowships; contributed labor, parts, and/or infrastructure funding; industry contracts; Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants; and/or funded parallel efforts on related projects.
Most of our technology development PIs hire students and postdocs, on average three or four per project, totaling over 100 to date. This helps train the future astrophysics workforce. As can be seen in the quotes, the Program is making a deep impact on these future technologists, and through them promotes astrophysics missions over many decades to come.