Scientists are thinking about the successor of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), that will be launched in 2018, the High Definition Space Telescope (HDST).
Artist’s conception of the proposed High-Definition Space Telescope, which would have a giant segmented mirror and unprecedented resolution at optical and UV wavelengths. Credit NASA/GSFC
The HDST features 12-meter wide segmented mirror, that would give much higher resolution than any current telescopes, allowing astronomers to focus on many Earth-like exoplanets orbiting stars outside our solar system, up to 100 light-years away, resolve stars even in the Andromeda Galaxy.
According to Marc Postman, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute:
“The 24x increased sharpness compared to Hubble and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope is similar to the dramatic improvement of an UltraHD TV over a standard television.”
Humanity’s most compelling questions remain unanswered: Are we alone in the universe? Or, are other inhabited Earth-like worlds common in our galaxy? What’s more, how did life emerge from a chaotic cosmic beginning?
A new study issued by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), based in Washington, D.C., describes a visionary, innovative, and revolutionary path forward to answering these and other timeless questions that are considered game-changers in our understanding of our place in the cosmos.
A simulated spiral galaxy as viewed by Hubble and the proposed High Definition Space Telescope at a lookback time of approximately 10 billion years. Image credit: D. Ceverino, C. Moody, G. Snyder, and Z. Levay (STScI)
AURA President Matt Mountain, said:
“When we imagine the landscape of astronomy in the decade of 2030, we realize it is at last within our grasp to make a monumental discovery that will change mankind forever. We hope to learn whether or not we are alone in the universe.”
AURA spearheaded the study of space-based options for ultraviolet (UV) and optical astronomy in the era following the James Webb Space Telescope’s mission (planned for launch in 2018). AURA brought together a team of research scientists, astronomers, and technologists to assess a future space observatory that can significantly advance our understanding of the origin and evolution of the cosmos and whether extraterrestrial life is an integral part of cosmic history.