The New NASA Telescope

For decades, NASA has had a goal of searching for traces of life on distant planets. Now, with the help of its newest telescope, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), these dreams will soon become a reality. WFIRST is a cutting-edge space telescope that is set to revolutionize astrophysics as we know it. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this remarkable piece of technology and discuss how it will help answer some of the most fundamental questions of the universe.

What is WFIRST and What It Can Do?

WFIRST is a space telescope equipped with the most advanced imaging technology available today. It was first proposed by the National Academy of Sciences in 2010, and ever since then, the space agency has been working diligently to bring the idea to fruition. The telescope is set to launch in mid-2025 and will be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit, 1 million miles away from Earth.

The telescope is equipped with two cameras: one is an optical camera with a field of view 100 times larger than the Hubble, and the other is a near-infrared camera specifically designed to detect minute changes in the light that comes from exoplanets, allowing the telescope to search for evidence of life. The WFIRST’s total field of view is around 2.4 degree square; that’s equivalent to 2.4 times 2.4 times 2.4 finger tips!

The Uses for WFIRST

The uses for the WFIRST telescope are vast and varied. It will be used for a variety of projects for both astrophysicists and laypeople alike. Here are just a few of its uses:

  1. Observing Near-Earth Objects: Astronomers will use WFIRST to observe Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) like comets and near-Earth asteroids and get a better understanding of them—an invaluable resource for calculating the risk of potentially hazardous impacts and preparing for the unavoidable events.

  2. Searching for Nearby Worlds: WFIRST will also be used to study and identify distant objects in the Solar System. The telescope will be able to discern the differences between rocky and gaseous planets in our own solar system, and between asteroids and comets.

  3. Investigating Dark Matter & Dark Energy: WFIRST will also be employed to investigate dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up around 85 percent of all matter in the universe, and dark energy, the mysterious force that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.

  4. Searching for Signs of Life: In its mission to search for traces of life on distant planets, the telescope will be used to look for telltale signs of life, such as oxygen and methane gas in a planet’s atmosphere.

The Benefits of WFIRST

The benefits of NASA’s newest telescope extend far beyond astrophysics. Here are some of the ways that WFIRST will revolutionize the way we look at the universe:

  1. Precise Measurements: By precisely measuring the brightness and spectrums of distant planets, the telescope will help us better understand how planets form and how they evolve over time.

  2. Understanding Cosmic Acceleration: By analyzing dark matter, dark energy, and the expansion of the universe, WFIRST will provide us with a better understanding of “cosmic acceleration” – a phenomenon that is still largely a mystery.

  3. Improving Technology: WFIRST’s technology will also help to improve current imaging systems. By “mapping” a larger portion of the sky, the telescope’s optical camera should be able to provide more detailed images than any Earth-based telescope.

  4. Bringing Us Closer to Our Goal: Most importantly, the telescope will bring us closer to discovering extraterrestrial life. Through WFIRST’s groundbreaking imaging techniques, astronomers will be able to pick up subtle signs of biological activity on distant worlds.

NASA’s new telescope, WFIRST, is certainly an exciting development for scientists and laypeople alike. Thanks to its cutting edge imaging technology, the telescope will enable us to further explore the universe in ways that were previously impossible. From helping us better understand nearby worlds to searching for signs of life on distant planets, WFIRST is sure to revolutionize the way we look at the universe.