Title: NASA's Cosmic Journeys Program: To the Edge of Gravity, Space and Time


The nature of gravity and its relationship to the other three forces and to quantum theory is one of the major challenges facing us as we begin the new century. In order to make progress we must challenge the current theories by observing the effects of gravity under the most extreme conditions possible. Black holes represent one extreme, where the laws of physics as we understand them break down. The Universe as whole is another extreme, where its evolution and fate is dominated by the gravitational influence of dark matter and the nature of the Cosmological constant. In the extreme conditions in the early universe it is thought that gravity may somehow be unified with the other forces. I will outline NASA's "Cosmic Journeys" program designed to observe the extremes of gravity throughout the universe. This program will probe the nature of black holes, ultimately obtaining a direct image of the event horizon. It will investigate the large scale structure of the Universe to constrain the location and nature of dark matter and the nature of the cosmological constant. Finally it will search for the highest energy processes, that might approach those found in the early universe.