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The EXIST Mission Concept StudyEXIST is a mission designed to find and study black holes (BHs) over a wide range of environments and masses, including: 1) BHs accreting from binary companions or dense molecular clouds throughout our Galaxy and the Local Group, 2) supermassive black holes (SMBHs) lying dormant in galaxies that reveal their existence by disrupting passing stars, and 3) SMBHs that are hidden from our view at lower energies due to obscuration by the gas that they accrete. 4) the birth of stellar mass BHs which is accompanied by long cosmic gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) which are seen several times a day and may be associated with the earliest stars to form in the Universe. EXIST will provide an order of magnitude increase in sensitivity and angular resolution as well as greater spectral resolution and bandwidth compared with earlier hard X-ray survey telescopes. With an onboard optical-infra red (IR) telescope, EXIST will measure the spectra and redshifts of GRBs and their utility as cosmological probes of the highest z universe and epoch of reionization. The mission would retain its primary goal of being the Black Hole Finder Probe in the Beyond Einstein Program. However, the new design for EXIST proposed to be studied here represents a significant advance from its previous incarnation as presented to BEPAC. The mission is now less than half the total mass, would be launched on the smallest EELV available (Atlas V-401) for a Medium Class mission, and most importantly includes a two-telescope complement that is ideally suited for the study of both obscured and very distant BHs. EXIST retains its very wide field hard X-ray imaging High Energy Telescope (HET) as the primary instrument, now with improved angular and spectral resolution, and in a more compact payload that allows occasional rapid slews for immediate optical/IR imaging and spectra of GRBs and AGN as well as enhanced hard X-ray spectra and timing with pointed observations. The mission would conduct a 2 year full sky survey in scanning mode, interrupted for several orbits per day by GRB follow-ups, followed by a combined pointing-scanning mission phase for optical/IR spectroscopy and redshifts for the large AGN sample found in the survey as well as GRBs and LSST transients. A Team of university, NASA, and industry investigators will conduct the study to determine the full sensitivity and capabilities of this new configuration for EXIST. It will build on the extensive studies of the prior design for the mission and the HET and will incorporate the optical/IR telescope (hereafter IRT) now fully developed by our ITT partner for the NextView Commercial Remote Sensing mission (early 2008 launch) with a focal plane to be developed at GSFC based in part on JWST/NIRSPEC designs. No new technology is needed for either the IRT or HET instruments. The study will pay close attention to full mission cost and present a design for the Decadal Survey Workshop to ensure this even more capable EXIST mission is once again part of the next Decadal Survey.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Fishman, Gerald J. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Grindlay, J. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Hong, J. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
September 7, 2008
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
INTEGRAL Conference(Copenhagen)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.