As James Webb Approaches Launch a New Telescope is Being Developed
Kyle Maxey posted on July 29, 2014 |
As the James Webb Telescope is readied for launch NASA already has plans for a next gen space telesc...

NASA, telescope, hubble, webb, atlast, exoplanetIn just three short years the James Webb space telescope is set for launch. Springboarding off the undeniable success of Hubble, the James Webb telescope will peer deeper into space, unlocking the mysteries of our Cosmos. While it’s hoped that the James Webb will bring about a revolution in deep field astronomical observation, the planning for its successor is already underway.

Named the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST) NASA’s newest telescope concept would build upon the technologies developed for both Hubble and Webb.

While ATLAST is just a concept at the moment, the team spearheading the development of the machine would like to see a 2.8m (8-ft) mirrored telescope rocketed into space. With this mirror, galaxies 10 million light years away could be seen in high-resolution and tightly clustered star formations could be unpacked in greater detail.

Along with its primary mirror, ATLAST would ideally feature a slitless spectrometer to study dark energy, a coronograph to image exoplanets and a “killer app” that could detect signatures of life on Earth-like planets orbiting foreign stars.

“ATLAST would achieve critically important science goals not possible with ground-based observatories or with any other planned space missions,” said Harley Thronson, Goddard senior scientist for Advanced Concepts in Astrophysics and ATLAST study scientist. “Now is the time to plan for the future.”

NASA’s timetable for the development and launch of ATLAST is still tentative, but researchers believe it could be space-bound by the mid-2020s. With the rapid development of technology I wonder how many more killer apps and instruments might be added to this craft. Moreover, I wonder how the next decade of astronomical discoveries could shift ATLAST’s focus.

Images Courtesy of NASA

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