Thinking too much ahead is never an issue when talking about space. After all, the stars we’re seeing may just as well be long gone by the time their light reaches our eyes. Yet, recently, reports are coming in that soon, a new giant telescope will scan for alien worlds.
Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990. Technologically speaking, it’s almost ancient. Although five separate missions have upgraded the tech on our first orbital telescope, it’s becoming more and more obsolete.
The James Webb Telescope, its successor, is still under construction, and it is set to be launched in October 2018, after constant funding issues and problems which delayed it from the previous launch date set for 2011.
Although the latter should suffice for the time being, NASA does not like to sit around and wait, so the space agency challenged the Space Telescope Science Institute to think of the next giant space telescope, and think boldly, as Marc Postman, one of the scientists of the institute, admits.
The HDST, or High Definition Space Telescope is a marvel now, when we’re just imagining it, let alone when it will really exist. It will supposedly have 54 separate, individual mirrors, which will form a viewing surface 25 times bigger than that of Hubble. This should make the images appear stunningly clear, and give it the ability to see much farther than Hubble was ever intended to see.
Remember what Hubble did when it pointed its eye at the edge of the known universe in 1995, when it shocked the whole world of science with jaw-dropping pictures of billions of new galaxies which nobody had ever though existed.
Now imagine what the HDST would do with 25 times more power than Hubble, and remember that the farther we go in space, we also exponentially go back in time. The scientists say that this new telescope could very well be capable of observing the formation of the universe, from this extremely distant future.
Not only that, but this telescope could help us elucidate mysteries like the Kuiper Belt, or the atmospheres of Neptune, or Uranus. It could see very distant exoplanets, and could detect the composition of their atmospheres. It can even detect life on those planets. It could see the galaxies that Hubble saw in those 1995 pictures at 25 times the zoom, and at a much higher resolution. Scientists say it could zoom in on the suns of these galaxies, even if they are as small as our sun.
All in all, there are a lot of reasons to be excited, and with the very distant launch date estimated at 2030, many of the scientists working on it are hoping to be able to still make the event.
Image source: turner.com