NASA's re-used spy telescope is ready for the next stage of development.
The $ 3.2 billion Wide field infrared survey telescope (WFIRST) recently passed its preliminary design review, which means that it has met all budget, schedule and performance requirements for the team to begin finalizing the design. If all goes as planned, WFIRST should be launched in space in the mid-2020s.
"It is an honor to work with such a dedicated and talented development team, and each person has helped ensure that the telescope is technically sound, secure and able to carry out compelling scientific research," said Scott Smith, Chief Scientist. of the WFIRST telescope at Goddard Space Flight Center at NASA in Maryland, said in a statement from NASA. "It's exciting to imagine our new telescope in space, exploring the universe, and we look forward to pushing the boundaries of human knowledge."
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In 2012, the National Recognition Office Offered Two NASA telescopes originally designed as spy devices, so that scientists can reuse the instruments to study the world around us. The telescope is intended for give astronomers a clearer and broader view of the universe.
WFIRST will study the evolution of dark energy and dark matter since the Big Bang that formed our universe. Little is known about these mysterious substances, and a better understanding of them could help scientists understand why our universe is accelerating as it expands.
L & # 39; instrument will also examine the exoplanets and examine our own Milky Way galaxy to see how common the structure of our solar system is.
WFIRST has a 2.4 meter wide mirror and a 300 megapixel camera. Each field of vision in WFIRST is 100 times larger than that of NASA The Hubble Space Telescopebut with the same resolution. The main instruments of the telescope are a wide-field instrument (to examine dark matter, dark energy and exoplanets) and a coronograph to directly image exoplanets by obscuring the light emitted by their host stars.
This coronagraph is vital because it will allow scientists to study similar exoplanets, similar to those of our solar system, especially exoplanets similar to the Earth. According to NASA, the coronograph will focus on planets in orbit around three to ten times the distance of the Earth from the sun.
The latest decennial survey in astrophysics, published in 2010, ranked WFIRST at first flagship mission. Yet, planning for WFIRST took place in the middle of Cancellations threatened in NASA budget in 2019 and 2020; it was restored in 2019 and is still being revised for 2020. One of the main competitors of WFIRST funding is the delay taken by NASA and its budget overrun. James Webb Space Telescope, which should be launched in 2021.