Small Explorer program

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The Small Explorer program (SMEX) is an effort within NASA to fund space exploration missions that cost no more than $120 million.[1] Extending the larger Explorer program, it was started in 1989.[2]

Program history[edit]

Artist rendering for the proposed TESS space observatory

The first set of three SMEX missions were launched between 1992-07-03 and 1998-12-05. The second set of two missions were launched 1998-04-02 and 1999-03-05. These missions were managed by the Small Explorer Project Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). In the Spring of 1999, that office was closed and with the announcement of opportunity for the third set of SMEX missions NASA converted the program so that each mission was managed by its Principal Investigator, with oversight by the GSFC Explorers Project.[3]

Primary-phase missions[edit]

Three SMEX missions are currently funded for their primary missions: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) and Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX).[1] AIM was launched in 2007, IBEX in 2008, and NuSTAR launched in June 2012. Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) was launched in 2013.

Extended-phase or completed missions[edit]

Candidate missions[edit]

On 2008-05-29 NASA announced selection of six candidate mission proposals for further evaluation as part of SMEX.[4] These include:

NASA announced on June 19, 2009 that the two winning proposals were GEMS and IRIS.[7] GEMS did not pass a confirmation review conducted on 2012-05-10, which effectively cancelled the project. The project team appealled the cancellation.[8]

Unsuccessful missions[edit]

See also[edit]