Friday, April 24, 2015


The Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST) is a set of mission concepts for the next generation of UVOIR space observatory with a primary aperture diameter in the 8-m to 16-m range that will allow us to perform some of the most challenging observations to answer some of our most compelling questions, including "Is there life elsewhere in the Galaxy?" We have identified two different telescope architectures, but with similar optical designs, that span the range in viable technologies. The architectures are a telescope with a monolithic primary mirror and two variations of a telescope with a large segmented primary mirror. This approach provides us with several pathways to realizing the mission, which will be narrowed to one as our technology development progresses. The concepts invoke heritage from HST and JWST design, but also take significant departures from these designs to minimize complexity, mass, or both.

Our report provides details on the mission concepts, shows the extraordinary scientific progress they would enable, and describes the most important technology development items. These are the mirrors, the detectors, and the high-contrast imaging technologies, whether internal to the observatory, or using an external occulter. Experience with JWST has shown that determined competitors, motivated by the development contracts and flight opportunities of the new observatory, are capable of achieving huge advances in technical and operational performance while keeping construction costs on the same scale as prior great observatories.


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