Frequently Asked Questions

In the NASA NSPIRES solicitation NNH13ZDA002L of November 27, 2012, page 2, line 6, there is a reference to a "4 quadrant summary chart".  Could you please explain to me what this is?  I am not sure if it is an optical measurement reference, a systems engineering reference or a solicitation evaluation formalism reference (or something else?).

The 4-quadrant summary chart mentioned in the RFI is what we refer to as a “quad chart” on the “Submit an Abstract” page of the SALSO web site.  It is a template for presenting a brief overview of a SALSO concept.  An example of the quad chart format is provided by clicking the “template” link at
Is the hardware able to be used as an earth-based observer? I can see that the hardware is designed for space applications, but I am asking if there is a physical limitation or authoritative restriction that would disallow the use of these optics in a terrestrial atmosphere or a gravitational environment.

The scope of the solicitation is limited to space applications.  Ground-based observatories are not addressed as NASA goals in the space science decadal surveys.

My concept is not directly related to Large Space Optics. Can I submit an abstract?

No. We are soliciting only concepts for use of the large space optics that are described in the RFI. If your concept is not related to the use of these large space optics, then it is not within the scope of the RFI.
My concept is related to a mechanism to detect dark energy. Can I submit an abstract?

We are accepting abstracts related to Space Technology, Human Exploration and Operations, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics, with a few exceptions.  One exception is that the objectives of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) stipulated in the 2010 National Research Council (NRC) decadal survey are excluded.  If your dark energy concept is related to the objectives of WFIRST, it would not fall within the scope of this RFI.  If your concept is not related WFIRST, then it would be within the scope of the RFI.

We understand the exclusion of high spatial resolution imaging of the Earth. Would ultraviolet imaging or spectroscopy of the upper atmosphere, aurora or magnetosphere be allowed?

Yes. Observation of regions above the stratopause is considered within the realm of heliophysics and is within the scope of this RFI.  Therefore, ultraviolet imaging or spectroscopy of the upper atmosphere, aurora or magnetosphere would be within scope.

I note that the AFTA study is open to US Persons only.  Is the SALSO study similarly constrained?

The SALSO RFI is not restricted to US persons.
I am not from the US.  Am I eligible to submit an abstract?

Yes.  There are no restrictions on who may submit abstracts.
In the quad chart under ‘Description’ header, it is not possible to address the concept, implementation and operations approach. How do I handle this problem?

The quad chart is intended to be a very brief summary of the concept.  The three-page abstract may be used to more fully explain the concept, implementation, and operations approach.  Just use a few words to summarize these areas in the quad chart.

Are Earth Science concepts within the scope of this RFI?

Concepts related to Heliophysics are within the scope of the RFI, but concepts pertaining to Earth Science cannot be accepted.
Is this opportunity limited to the second of the NRO telescopes, or are possible uses of the first telescope also in the mix?

Concepts related to either telescope or for both telescopes in combination are being requested.
I would like to document via high resolution still and motion video photography the two SALSO telescopes before they are repurposed. I would also like to review any engineering documents that the NRO has made available regarding these telescopes.

The proposal you describe is not within the scope of this RFI.  In addition, all publicly-releasable information on these telescopes has been posted to the SALSO web page.

What is this study? 

The Study on Applications For Large Space Optics (SALSO) is an opportunity for individuals and organizations with innovative ideas for using the Large optical systems recently acquired by NASA for development activities that would provide benefit to NASA’s goals and objectives in Science, Human Space Flight and Technology Development.

Who can submit a concept?

Any individual or organization who wishes to may submit an idea to this study.  NASA is hopeful that we get some concepts from non-traditional sources.

What property is available to consider for this study? 

The NRO transferred to NASA some space qualified optical systems hardware that was residual from previous development work.

How much hardware is available? 

The equipment consists of elements that with some work could make two telescopes with support structure and a protective light baffle and other miscellaneous spares along with the associated documentation.

Where is the equipment located?

The equipment is housed at the Excelis Division of ITT in Rochester, NY.

Who has direct control of the hardware?

The equipment is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA HQ.

What is NASA going to do with the Equipment?

NASA’s Astrophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate is performing a study of the use of one telescope to meet the needs of the recent National research Council’s Astrophysics Decadal Survey’s highest priority science goal, a wide field infrared survey telescope.  Concepts that directly address that mission concept are not acceptable to this study.  All other ideas except imaging the Earth are of interest to the Agency.

Is there some driver for this study and the wide breadth of the announcement?

NASA along with other elements of the government is faced with demands for capabilities but with limited resources.  The availability of this equipment potentially makes it possible for us to address some of our needs at a much reduced cost.  More than that, since this is such a unique occurrence, NASA has the opportunity to look at innovative approaches to mission execution that could dramatically reduce the cost of using these systems and to advance the abilities of the Agency over a broad range of activities.  Thus the idea of using humans or robotics in this activity has added value.

What will be the scoring criteria for concepts?

The concepts will not be scored as such.  The submissions will be considered based on how they meet the general desires as indicated in the RFI:

  • Highest value to science, human spaceflight, and space technology
  • Innovation
  • Cross-cutting value across mission directorate objectives and programs
  • Good use of Agency capabilities, current and future.

However, any idea or portion of a concept may be part of the eventual concepts NASA decides to study. 

What if I don’t get invited to the Workshop, is my effort wasted?

Not at all.  All the concepts submitted will be reviewed by the Agency team and elements of any of these concepts may be incorporated for further study.  All of the submittals will be available as part of the final report.  Invitations for the workshop may be based on factors that range from the criteria above to uniqueness and novelty.  This is not a competition.

Will this activity lead to a procurement?

This study only provides information for NASA to use in formulating potential future activities.  There is no direct connection between this activity and any anticipated procurement.

How is this hardware similar to the Hubble Space Telescope?

It is approximately the same size as Hubble but uses newer, much lighter, mirror and structure technology.

Do I need to purchase the NRC documents linked to in order to use the material?

No. After clicking on the document you want, 2/3 of the way down the NRC web page that comes up, on the left, is a grey box entitled "DOWNLOAD FREE PDF."   Click that; if you don't register, click "Continue as guest."  The next page requests your email address; other information is optional.  Then, hitting "CONTINUE" thanks you and permits you to click on the document you are looking for, which brings you to a page were you can specify downloading the whole document or selecting individual chapters.

Does my concept have to be fully developed  with budgets and schedules?

No. The purpose of this RFI is to collect innovative, compelling ideas for the use of these telescopes. Only a quad chart and a brief, 3-page
description (maximum) of the project is expected.
Would it be possible to use the telescopes or parts of these to further enhance the present Hubble Space Telescope?

Because NASA is looking for innovative and compelling ideas for the use of these telescopes, very few restrictions have been placed on potential uses.  We encourage you to write up your concept and submit it using the procedures described at
I have an idea for an abstract which I would like to submit in response to your recent RFI. However, I was wondering – as your submission guidelines state that material should be "suitable for full and open distribution", I was wondering if you'd object to me also publishing an outline of this idea on my research blog?

The purpose of this RFI is to solicit broad community input for the potential use of these telescopes.  There are no restrictions on publishing your concept on your blog.
How soon does this study result in an order of some kind?

No procurement activities are planned with this RFI.  As the RFI states, “The information requested is for planning purposes only, subject to FAR Clause 52.215-3, entitled “Solicitation for Information or Planning Purposes.” The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this solicitation or to otherwise pay for the information solicited except as provided in subsection 31.205-18, Bid and Proposal (B&P) costs, of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.” If you have any concepts that you would like to have considered, please feel free to submit them using the procedures described at
We would appreciate more information about the spectrophotometer components of the system documented by the solicitation.  This will help us determine if the parts are usable and could be fashioned into a usable system.  

There are currently no instruments or additional optical elements associated with these telescopes, beyond the primary and secondary mirrors. (see
Please confirm that an organization may submit multiple four page responses; one per concept. Is there any limit? Can NASA centers submit RFI responses or is this limited to organizations outside of NASA?

The page limit for each concept is four pages as described in the RFI.  There are no limits on the number of concepts an organization can submit.  Any interested party, inside or outside NASA, can submit concepts.


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