I am sending this letter to update you on the status of future mission planning within NASA¹s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP). At the last ExoPAG meeting (ExoPAG-5, Jan. 7-8, 2012, Austin, TX), I indicated that the Program would be issuing a Request for Information (RFI) for white papers articulating compelling exoplanet science accessible with reduced-scale flight missions. However, after giving further consideration to the details of this plan and the evolving landscape within which the ExEP operates, we have come to the conclusion that the programmatic benefits of this plan would not justify the time and effort on the part of the community that would be required to respond to such a call. Consequently, we are no longer planning to issue the aforementioned RFI.
I should emphasize, however, that the ExEP continues to be very interested in developing concepts for reduced-cost missions, and community involvement will play an important role in that development. Specifically, it is still the plan to stand up community-based Science and Technology Definition Teams (STDTs) that will work with engineering support provided by the ExEP to develop a set of reduced-scale design reference mission concepts that will
provide additional guidance for ExEP technology development investments in the latter half of the decade. The details of this process and timeline for its implementation will be determined over the next few months as part of NASA¹s budget planning process. If you have any thoughts or ideas in this regard that you would like to contribute, you are welcome to send your input to me via email at NASA-ExoPAG@nasa.gov. I will update the community on developments as they occur.
I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that we have decided to hold the next ExoPAG meeting (ExoPAG-6) in conjunction with the 44th Annual DPS Meeting next October in Reno, NV. The plan is to hold the meeting on Saturday/Sunday, October 13/14, the weekend in advance of the DPS meeting. It is my hope that holding the meeting in this venue will make participation in the ExoPAG more attractive and convenient for a segment of the exoplanet community that perhaps has not been well represented at previous meetings. Details and the agenda for ExoPAG-6 will be posted on the ExoPAG web site (http://exep.jpl.nasa.gov/exopag/) as they become available.
Thank you for your continued interest and support of NASA¹s Exoplanet Exploration Program.