Astrophysics is the science that studies the universe. NASA’s Astrophysics Division funds and manages missions and studies that seek to broaden our understanding of our place in the universe. This work addresses three big questions:
These three themes are managed by the Astrophysics Division’s Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) Program, Cosmic Origins (COR) Program, and Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP), respectively. The PCOS, COR, and EXEP programs develop and operate the Division’s strategic science missions. They conduct strategic technology development activities to enable future missions and to support early phase mission development.
Future strategic missions require continuous development and improvement of technologies beyond our current state of the art. NASA Astrophysics Division funds technology development at all levels of maturity.
The Astrophysics Research and Analysis (APRA) program solicits basic research proposals for investigations relevant to NASA’s programs in astronomy and astrophysics. These typically include Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1-3 technology development activities. APRA also funds science and technology investigations that can be carried out with instruments flown on sounding rockets, stratospheric balloons, or other platforms. To view the current APRA solicitation click here and enter keyword “APRA”.
The Strategic Astrophysics Technology (SAT) program matures key technologies that address the needs of specific strategic missions, moving from proof of concept through validation in relevant environment (TRL 3-6). The final maturation stages (TRL 6-9) focus on proving flight-worthiness for mission-specific applications, and are thus addressed by specific flight projects. The SAT program is the main technology development vehicle managed by the Program Offices. To view the current SAT solicitation click here and enter keyword “SAT”.
The PCOS and COR programs publish a Program Annual Technology Report (PATR) each October to summarize their technology development activities for the prior year, including new investment announcements, technology gaps and their prioritization results, and progress/status of funded technology developments. These reports can be retrieved by clicking the report cover images shown below.
The PCOS and COR programs collect community inputs each June on gaps between the current state of the art and technology needed for the strategic missions of the coming decades to achieve program science goals. The respective technology gap submission forms are located in the “Tech Gap Priorities” tab under each technology gap priority table.
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate also funds a wide range of technology development, from TRL 1 through 9, including significant support for astrophysics.