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Physics of the Cosmos

Program Home Page  PCOS Newsletter

Our quest to understand how the universe works starts with the study of the very basic building blocks of our existence - matter, energy, space, and time - and how they behave under the extreme physical conditions that characterize the infant and evolving Universe. The Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) program incorporates cosmology, high-energy astrophysics, and fundamental physics projects aimed at addressing directly central questions about the nature of complex astrophysical phenomena such as black holes, neutron stars, dark energy, and gravitational waves. By utilizing a fleet of space-based missions operating across the whole electromagnetic spectrum, PCOS ultimate, overarching goal is to learn about the origin and ultimate destiny of the cosmos.

*Sort missions by clicking the column headers.

DivisionNameLaunch DatePhase
Astrophysics Chandra
Chandra explores the hot turbulent regions in space with images 25 times sharper than previous x-ray pictures. Chandra is performing detailed studies of black holes, supernovas, and dark matter, to increase our understanding of the origin, evolution, and destiny of ...
19990723 July 23, 1999 3Operating
Astrophysics Euclid
Euclid is an ESA-led mission to map the geometry of the dark Universe. Using two cosmological probes (weak lensing and baryonic acoustic oscillations) in a wide-field survey, Euclid will precisely measure the growth of large-scale structure and the expansion history ...
20200101 2020 2Development
Astrophysics Fermi
Fermi, NASA's most recent gamma-ray observatory has a wide window on the universe. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light, and the gamma-ray sky is spectacularly different from the one we perceive with our own eyes. With a huge ...
20080611 June 11, 2008 3Operating
Astrophysics IXO
International X-ray Observatory (IXO) has been designed to perform X-ray spectroscopy with unprecedented sensitivity and spectral resolution, to determine the flow of gas in accretion disks around black holes in active galactic nuclei and in binary X-ray sources, to measure ...
1Under Study
Astrophysics LISA
The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) is a space-based observatory that will allow us to view the Universe in a new spectrum, that of gravitational radiation. This mission is part of the Physics of the Cosmos Program.
1Under Study
Astrophysics Planck
Planck is imaging minor variations relevant in the Cosmic Background Radiation over the whole sky, with unprecedented sensitivity and angular resolution. Planck is providing information relevant to several cosmological and astrophysical issues, such as testing theories of the early universe ...
20090514 May 14, 2009 3Operating
Astrophysics ST-7 / Lisa Pathfinder
Space Technology 7 project will flight test a Disturbance Reduction System (DRS) that will aid scientists in their quest to detect and measure gravitational waves in space.
20150630 2015 2Development
Astrophysics XMM-Newton
XMM-Newton is an X-ray astrophysics observatory that enables astronomers to conduct sensitive X-ray spectroscopic observations of a wide variety of cosmic sources. This mission is part of SMD's Physics of the Cosmos program.
19991210 December 10, 1999 3Operating