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
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 10, 1998
CONTRACTORS CHOSEN FOR SPACE INTERFEROMETRY MISSION
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA, has
selected Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, Sunnyvale, CA, and
TRW Inc., Space and Electronics Group, Redondo Beach, CA, for
negotiations as industry team members for the Space
Interferometry Mission (SIM).
SIM is an innovative space system that will be launched in
2005 to measure precisely the location of stars and to search
for planets orbiting nearby stars. SIM is part of the Origins
Program in NASA's Space Science enterprise, a long-term program
to enhance our understanding of the universe and search for life
The total value of these two contracts, including the
mission formulation and implementation phases, is estimated to
be in excess of $200 million. The initial contracts will cover
the mission's formulation phase, with an option for the
implementation phase. During the formulation phase, initial
mission design and planning for full-scale implementation will
"This marks the start of what we envision as an exciting
and productive relationship with our industry team members,"
said Chris Jones, SIM project manager at JPL.
SIM will be placed into an Earth-trailing orbit around the
Sun. Its multiple telescopes will be used in pairs; the light
they gather will be collected and processed to pinpoint the
position of stars. The system will synthesize images that could
normally only be obtained with a much larger telescope. It also
will demonstrate the ability to "null" or cancel out the light
from a star, which will help enable future missions to obtain a
direct view of planets around other stars. Interferometry will
play a key role in several missions of the Origins program.
SIM will search for planets beyond our solar system by
watching for the telltale wobble motion of a star, which
indicates the gravitational tug of an orbiting planet or
planets. SIM also will image the regions immediately
surrounding massive black hole candidates in the nearest
galaxies, measure the distances to half a dozen nearby galaxies,
and study other celestial objects.
JPL manages SIM for NASA's Office of Space Science,
Washington, DC. JPL is a division of Caltech, Pasadena, CA.
Additional information on the Space Interferometry Mission is
available on the Internet at http://huey.jpl.nasa.gov/sim/.
Information on the Origins program is available at