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JDEM/Beyond Einstein, is it still alive?

  1. Aug 26, 2008 #1
    So back around 2006 I was reading a bunch about how people were worried that the "Beyond Einstein" program was losing its funding. This was a set of five or so astronomy probes investigating edge astrophysics, and they were talking about funding maybe one or two of them (one of the probes was the LISA gravity wave probe, which Europe is paying for a lot of anyway) and putting off the rest, maybe by as much as a decade. After this I didn't hear anything about this for awhile.

    I went back and tried to look up the program last week to see what had happened to it, and I found that under NASA's astrophysics page the old Beyond Einstein missions are still listed under the new name "Physics of the Cosmos", but I'm having trouble telling which of these are real ongoing projects and which ones are shelved missions that exist only as a listing on a web page:

    - LISA is continuing, but that probably would have happened even if the U.S. had pulled out completely

    - The Constellation-X X-Ray probe mission was apparently just this month re-formulated as a joint project with the European Space Agency as the International X-ray Observatory


    - The other three former Beyond Einstein missions-- the JDEM "Joint Dark Energy Mission" probe, the Inflation probe, and the Black Hole census probe, are now listed as "Einstein Probes" to be done as "Future Missions". The page does not mention any movement on these things since 2006. Both JDEM and the Inflation probe claim that there are three candidate projects which could be selected to fly; the entry for JDEM at least lists and links the three candidate projects, the Inflation probe page is like one page long and doesn't even do that much.

    What is the status of these missions?

    Am I understanding it correctly that LISA and Con-X are receiving active development (and ESA assistance), but that the others have been essentially shelved?

    And JDEM is the one I'm most curious about, does anyone know what is up with the JDEM projects and do you know when if ever we can expect to see them taken off the shelf and considered again?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2008 #2


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    They are supposed to downselect from SNAP, ADEPT, and Destiny sometime soon, I don't know when, get a "new start" (i.e. real money) in the 2009 budget year, and then really fly around 2013 or 2014... so much for the story. There is still money for JDEM in the draft Congressional bills for next years budget... But there's an election and a new administration for sure in any case. So don't expect any meaningful new info til the middle of next year...Then space projects are always 3 or 4 years late, if not more...So my advice is "don't hold your breath." But JDEM is still officially alive and the number one priority for a "new start".
    Hope that helps.
    Jim Graber
  4. Oct 8, 2008 #3
    This may be encouraging. Just today I was speaking to my ex-boss and friend at JPL, who is a Manager over a set of projects to be tracked at the DSN (Deep Space Network). He had received calls, etc. about JDEM, which is being assigned to him. When that point is reached in a project's "maturation" it's rather certain it's going to be an extant mission.
    Best of luck for the mission!

    Bruce P.
  5. Oct 9, 2008 #4


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    Here is a link to a nature article:
    I have a subscription, I don't know if you can see anything useful without one.
    It says that SNAP, ADEPT and Destiny have been combined into a single project headed by the government with headquarters at Goddard.
    It is still supported by both NASA and DOE, and in the number one position for a new start, but also still years away. I will try to remember to post if I see a new official schedule.
    Jim Graber
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