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WFIRST - the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope

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posted on Dec, 22 2017 @ 06:12 PM
Turns out there's a new wide-field infrared space telescope mission coming up, in 2020, on the heels of WISE and concurrent with the James Webb Telescope.

Scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will function as Hubble’s wide-eyed cousin. While just as sensitive as Hubble's cameras, WFIRST's 300-megapixel Wide Field Instrument will image a sky area 100 times larger. This means a single WFIRST image will hold the equivalent detail of 100 pictures from Hubble. The mission’s wide field of view will allow it to generate a never-before-seen big picture of the universe, which will help astronomers explore some of the greatest mysteries of the cosmos, like why the expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating. Some scientists attribute the speed-up to dark energy, an unexplained pressure that makes up 68 percent of the total content of the cosmos. The Wide Field Instrument will also allow WFIRST to measure the matter in hundreds of millions of distant galaxies through a phenomenon dictated by Einstein’s relativity theory. Massive objects like galaxies curve space-time in a way that bends light passing near them, creating a distorted, magnified view of far-off galaxies behind them. WFIRST will paint a broad picture of how matter is structured throughout the universe, allowing scientists to put the governing physics of its assembly to the ultimate test.

So, it's like the WISE telescope, but with much higher resolution and extra capabilities, while also complimenting the Webb telescope's mission. Perhaps most remarkably, it will operate at Lagrange 2 point, about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. There, the combined gravity of the Sun and Earth works to keep objects in L2 point in a stable position.

We thought we saw the most amazing images of space thanks to the Hubble telescope, but something tells me we ain't seen nothing yet.

We live in exciting times when we're actually learning about the cosmos we live in. We're actually taking a look at potentially habitable star systems and are able to study the conditions on those exoplanets.
edit on 22-12-2017 by wildespace because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 22 2017 @ 07:25 PM
The Big Picture...

posted on Dec, 22 2017 @ 08:36 PM
a reply to: wildespace

Stay tuned for the next big "Deep Field" view.

Exciting times indeed! As of now, what I most look forward to in the next few years is getting a better grasp on the atmospheric compositions of exoplanets that have one. And perhaps of equal importance, we should have an easier time finding potential moons around these planets.

And just maybe we could possibly be treated to confirming some big biosignature. That would be an epic discovery.

posted on Dec, 24 2017 @ 11:45 PM
I found this quite mindblowing - the total size of the image compared to Hubble's image size:

The amount of data in a single image will be staggering.

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