NASA's reused spy telescope is ready for the next stage of development.
$ 3.2 billion Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) recently approved its preliminary design review, which means that it fulfilled all the budget, schedule and performance requirements for the team to begin designing. If everything goes according to plan, WFIRST should launch into space in the mid-2020s.
"It is an honor to work with such a dedicated and talented development team. Every individual has helped to make the telescope technically sound, safe and capable of conducting compelling science," said Scott Smith, WFIRST telescope manager at NASA: s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, in a NASA statement . "It's exciting to imagine our new telescope out in space, exploring the universe and we look forward to pushing the boundaries of human knowledge."
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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 subjects, and a better understanding of them can help scientists learn more about why our universe accelerates as it expands.
The instrument will also examine exoplanets and examine our own Milky Way galaxy to see how common the structure of our solar system is.
WFIRST has a 7.8-foot (2.4-meter) mirror and a 300-megapixel camera. Each individual field of view in WFIRST is 100 times larger than NASA's Hubble Space Telescope but with the same resolution. The telescope's primary instrument is a wide field instrument (for examining dark matter, dark energy and exoplanets) and a crest screen for directly imaging exoplanets by hiding the light emitted by their host stars.
scientists are studying nearby exoplanets similar to those in our solar system, especially exoplanets similar to the Earth. The coronographer will focus on planets orbiting approximately three to ten times the Earth's distance from the sun, according to NASA.
The recent Astrophysics Decadal Survey, published in 2010, ranked WFIRST as top flagship mission . Nevertheless, WFIRST's planning has taken place in the midst of threatened cancellations in NASA's budget both 2019 and 2020 ; It was restored in 2019 and is still under review for 2020. One of the most important competitors for WFIRST funding is NASA's long-delayed and over-budgeted James Webb Space Telescope expected to launch in 2021.  Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook .