NOV 04, 2019 4:29 PM PST

What You Need to Know About NASA's Upcoming WFIRST Space Telescope

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

There are several space telescopes observing the cosmos at the very time of this writing, and there are plans to launch even more of them in the near future. While the James Webb Space Telescope has received most of the attention lately, it’s important to note that NASA is also working on another space telescope called the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) that promises to offer an unprecedented look at the universe.

WFIRST will help astronomers study a plethora of different things in the universe around us, including the contents of other stellar systems (exoplanets, stars, etc.) and perhaps even the existence of a mysterious thing that scientists like to call dark matter. It will do this with an advanced instrument package more advanced than any space telescope ever launched.

One of the things that will set WFIRST apart is its state-of-the-art coronagraph, which will enable the space telescope to peer at distant objects without the glare that space telescopes typically experience from the starlight emitted by surrounding stars. The coronagraph will be different than most in that it will utilize a special flexible mirror rather than a sunglass-like filter. Special actuators will bend this mirror precisely and in such a way that it will cancel out the surrounding light as astronomers focus on specific objects.

WFIRST has already been totally funded, but it hasn’t been built yet. NASA aims to build and launch the spacecraft by the mid-2020s. After a five-year observation mission, WFIRST could eventually be opened to public science projects, much like Hubble is today.

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.
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