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LLNL’s Pandora Mission Passes NASA’s Critical Design Review

Exoplanetary atmospheres

LLNL’s Pandora Mission Passes NASA’s Critical Design Review

NASA has approved Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Pandora small satellite mission in its critical design review. The green light allows Pandora to progress toward launch and its mission to study exoplanets and their stars.

Scheduled for launch in early 2025, Pandora is a 325 kilogram smallsat designed to enhance data collected by the James Webb Space Telescope, LLNL said.

Pandora’s mission is to observe signals from 20 stars and 39 exoplanets and to study the impact of starlight variations on the interpretation of exoplanetary atmospheric measurements.

A key technology Pandora will use is its unique all-aluminum, 45-centimeter telescope called CODA, jointly developed by LLNL and Corning, which provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional glass telescopes.

To keep costs low, LLNL also partnered with Blue Canyon Technologies, leveraging existing spacecraft designs for the Pandora satellite.

According to Ben Bahney, LLNL’s program leader for space science and security, the approval demonstrates NASA’s confidence in Pandora’s ability to achieve its scientific goals within the established budget and timeline.

Funded by NASA’s Astrophysics Pioneers program for small, ambitious missions, Pandora is a joint effort between LLNL and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

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Category: Space

Tags: Astrophysics Pioneers Ben Bahney Blue Canyon Technologies Critical Design Review James Webb Space Telescope Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory NASA Pandora small satellite space