OCT 27, 2019 5:29 AM PDT

NASA Considers Building Space Telescopes in Space to Reduce Cost and Risk

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Space telescopes are particularly important pieces of equipment, especially for astrophysicists, planetary scientists, and other space professionals that spend their entire lives studying the universe for specific answers for the endless slew of questions regarding where we all came from. On the other hand, space telescopes are tricky to build, and launching them into outer space poses a high risk for damaging the sensitive equipment that makes them tick.

The Hubble Space Telescope was built on Earth and then sent to space.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Given the apparent circumstances, it should come as no surprise that NASA is currently investigating novel ways of building future space telescopes. In fact, NASA determined from a recent study that building space telescopes from start to finish in the microgravitational environment of outer space could be the best answer. NASA is calling it in-space assembly, or iSA for short.

Related: What's taking so long to complete the James Webb Space Telescope?

All significant space telescopes to date have been built on Earth and then delivered to space on a rocket once completed, and it will be no different for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. But NASA’s latest approach involves contemplating the use of autonomous robots to fasten modular space telescope components in space.

While the Hubble Space Telescope has been serviced in outer space before, this proposal is starkly different in that NASA wants to build space telescopes from top to bottom in outer space. It would reduce risks associated with launching fully assembled space telescopes because losses could be more easily replaced. Additionally, developing a backbone for such a concept would also make in-space telescope servicing more feasible.

Of course, no idea is without its drawbacks. NASA claims that modular space-built observatories would reduce the number of anomaly resolution options and necessitate more money and resources for building parts and modules – especially the robotic machines that would be assembling these large objects in outer space.

Related: Everything you need to know about the ESA's upcoming Euclid Space Telescope

All in all, the pros outweigh the cons, and it’s entirely conceivable that the James Webb Space Telescope could be the last space telescope to be fully assembled here on Earth. It we’re lucky, perhaps those very same autonomous in-space building techniques could go on to build vital life support systems for deep space missions such as those involving the Moon and perhaps even Mars.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
New Technology Can Detect Fast Radio Bursts
JUL 06, 2020
New Technology Can Detect Fast Radio Bursts
Fast radio bursts are intense pulses of energy that come from light years away, popping fir a few milliseconds before di ...
JUL 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Star Cluster Born Outside of Our Galaxy is Discovered in the Milky Way
JUL 13, 2020
Star Cluster Born Outside of Our Galaxy is Discovered in the Milky Way
Scientists have reported the discovery of a vast stream of stars called Nyx in the vicinity of the sun.
JUL 19, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Did interstellar organic material form water on Earth?
JUL 19, 2020
Did interstellar organic material form water on Earth?
A recent study published in Scientific Reports sheds light on how our planet’s water could have first come to be. ...
AUG 14, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Cosmic Rays Might Have Played a Role in Shaping Our Genetic Materials
AUG 14, 2020
Cosmic Rays Might Have Played a Role in Shaping Our Genetic Materials
DNA, whose signature double helix structure scored Watson and Crick (and Frankland presumably according to many) a Nobel ...
SEP 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Could There Be Life on Venus?
SEP 10, 2020
Could There Be Life on Venus?
Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system, reaching 465 degrees Celcius- a temperature hot enough to melt lead. Wh ...
OCT 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Why the Sun's Atmosphere is Hotter than its Surface
OCT 09, 2020
Why the Sun's Atmosphere is Hotter than its Surface
Researchers have found evidence of nanojets (bright, thin lights) in the solar atmosphere, also known as the corona. The ...
Loading Comments...