Issue 15 - May 2015

AFTA Mission
WFIRST-AFTA 2015 SDT Report Released
Ingolf Heinrichsen
Program Office Mission Manager

The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets (WFIRST-AFTA) Science Definition Team (SDT) was selected and chartered by the NASA Astrophysics Division in July 2013 to develop the AFTA Design Reference Mission. Under the leadership of David Spergel and Neil Gehrels, the team—consisting of Charles Baltay, Dave Bennett, James Breckinridge, Megan Donahue, Alan Dressler, Scott Gaudi, Tom Greene, Olivier Guyon, Chris Hirata, Jason Kalirai, Jeremy Kasdin, Bruce Macintosh, Warren Moos, Saul Perlmutter, Marc Postman, Bernie Rauscher, Jason Rhodes, Yun Wang, and David Weinberg—worked together with the WFIRST Study Team over the last two years to develop their 2015 Final Report, which has recently been released to the public. It is the result of an in-depth study into how the transfer of the 2.4-meter AFTA to NASA will enable a truly compelling version of the WFIRST, the top-priority space mission identified in the 2010 National Academy of Sciences’ decadal survey, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, and the maturation of exoplanet direct imaging technology and exoplanet precursor science.

The 2015 SDT report summarizes the WFIRST-AFTA science program, presents a design reference mission, overviews the mission concept, describes recent progress in advancing the technical readiness of the key components, and shows how WFIRST-AFTA complements other planned ground-based and space-based telescopes to create an observing system for the 2020s that will transform our understanding of the universe.

The SDT's tenure will shortly come to an end as NASA lays the groundwork for WFIRST's expected future transition into the formulation phase, and the formation of a new science team. It has been a truly amazing experience to witness this group of extraordinary scientists lay the scientific groundwork for a mission that has the potential to alter our understanding of cosmology and exoplanet science in the next decade.

The report is available for download in pdf format from this URL:

Also available: the WFIRST-AFTA SDT Final Report Briefing to Paul Hertz (PDF):

The WFIRST-AFTA Study is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center as part of the Exoplanet Exploration Program.