MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Jane Platt (818) 354-0880
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 28, 2000
SCIENCE TEAM CHOSEN FOR SPACE INTERFEROMETRY MISSION
NASA has selected a science team for the Space
Interferometry Mission (SIM), an innovative space system that
will hunt for Earth-sized planets around other stars and
provide new insights into the origin and evolution of our
Scheduled for launch in 2009, SIM will also precisely
measure the locations and distances of stars throughout our
Milky Way Galaxy, and study other celestial objects. The
mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
SIM is part of NASA's Origins Program, a series of
missions that will help us answer two fundamental questions:
How did we get here? Are we alone? The newly selected team
consists of 10 principal investigators leading key science
teams, and five mission specialists.
-- Discovery of Planetary Systems: Dr. Geoffrey W. Marcy,
University of California, Berkeley
A search for new planets around nearby stars, which also
will study the stars where scientists currently think
planets have been found.
-- Extrasolar Planets Interferometric Survey: Dr. Michael
A search for planets using a large sample of stars. This
study addresses one of SIM's primary science goals:
census of planetary systems around nearby stars.
-- The Search for Young Planetary Systems and the Evolution of
Young Stars: Dr. Charles A. Beichman, JPL
A study of the early stages of the formation of planetary
systems around young stars that will provide new insight
into how planets like Earth might have formed.
-- Stellar, Remnant, Planetary, and Dark-Object Masses from
Astrometric Micro-lensing: Dr. Andrew P. Gould, Ohio State University, Columbus
A novel technique of micro-lensing will be used to make
exceptionally precise measurements of the masses
and a variety of other astronomical sources. Micro-
involves changes to a star's appearance that
occur due to gravity from a nearby object.
-- Space Interferometry Mission: Dynamical Observations of
Galaxies Key Project: Dr. Edward J. Shaya, Raytheon ITSS Corporation
By determining the precise distances and motion of nearby
galaxies, this scientific program will study the
of the local group of galaxies.
-- Astrophysics of Reference Frame Tie Objects: Dr. Kenneth J.
Johnston, U.S. Naval Observatory
This program will obtain the data required to determine
the motion of the Milky Way relative to extremely
-- Anchoring the Population II Distances and Ages of Globular
Clusters: Dr. Brian C. Chaboyer, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.
This program will make observations to determine the ages
and distances of globular clusters which are
determine the age of the universe.
-- A MASSIF Effort to Determine the Mass-Luminosity Relation
for Stars of Various Ages, Metallicities and Evolutionary States:
Dr. Todd J. Henry, Georgia State University, Atlanta
Determine to an accuracy of one percent the mass of 100
main sequence stars and a special sample of
additional field stars. The improved mass-luminosity
relation derived from this work would impact many fields
of astrophysics and could be one of the major
accomplishments of the SIM mission.
-- Taking the Measure of the Milky Way: Dr. Steven R.
Majewski, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
A study of the motion of stars in our galaxy to determine
the forces that cause the motion to understand
distribution of matter in the Milky Way.
-- Binary Black Holes, Accretion Disks and Relativistic Jets:
Photocenters of Nearby Active Galactic Nuclei and Quasars:
Dr. Ann E. Wehrle, JPL
A study of possible motions and changes in active
galactic nucleii and quasars. The data will provide new
and unique insight into the physical processes in these
The mission scientists selected for the SIM science team are:
-- Education and Public Outreach Scientist: Dr. Guy P.
Worthey, St. Ambrose College, Davenport, Iowa
-- Data Scientist: Dr. Andreas Quirrenbach, University of
California, San Diego
-- Instrument Scientist: Dr. Stuart Shaklan, JPL
-- Interdisciplinary Scientist: Dr. Shrinivas R. Kulkarni,
California Institute of Technology
-- Imaging and Nulling Scientist: Dr. Ronald J. Allen, Space
Telescope Science Institute,
SIM will be placed into an Earth-trailing orbit around
the Sun. Light gathered by its multiple telescopes will be
combined and processed to yield information that could
normally be obtained only with a much larger telescope. SIM
will also search for planets beyond our solar system. A
critical part of the SIM mission will be to identify potential
observing targets for the Terrestrial Planet Finder, which
will image planetary systems around other stars and look for
chemical signatures that indicate a planet could sustain life.
Additional information on SIM is available at
http://sim.jpl.nasa.gov . Additional information on the
Origins program is available at http://origins.jpl.nasa.gov .
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology
in Pasadena, manages SIM and Terrestrial Planet Finder for
NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.