While the James Webb Space Telescope is being finalized and adjusted for the scheduled launch in 2018, astronomers ask themselves what should be the next step, and suggest building the HDST.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space back in 1990, and remains in operation even to this day. But the science community wants bigger and better telescopes to be launched, and many astronomers are already thinking about the next 25 years.
The first successor to Hubble is the JWST which is going to be launched in October 2018, and although it will take better quality pictures and grater resolution, it is not entirely as revolutionary as Hubble was back in the early 90’s.
On Monday members of the scientific community presented a report outlying the plans for a new telescope as well as the requirements necessary to build it. Several scientists spoke about this new project, at an event held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The Association of Universities for Research, is consortium of different institutions that operate astronomical observatories and telescopes. It is spearheading this new initiative which asks for the support of the science community in building the HDST Telescope project.
The High Definition Space Telescope is seen by many as a necessity which would further and accelerate far-space discoveries.
The HDST is planned to have a 12 meter primary mirror, which is unquestionably huge compared to the 2.4 meter main mirror on the Hubble or the 6.5 meter mirror planned for the Webb Telescope. The tendency to build bigger, is also accompanied by an impulse to build better.
The HDST will most likely be planned for launch sometime in the 2030’s but the technologies which it will use are mostly already available. The reason for such a long period between major telescope launches , is the vast amount of time that is required for proper planning and development of such machines.
The new telescope project will see the universe much as the Hubble does, through ultraviolet, optical and infrared light. But it’s huge mirror would provide unprecedented clarity and broaden the limits of the observable universe.
Being able to see deeper and better into space, was what made the Hubble so efficient and amazing when it was launched, and after 25 years it’s JWST replacement is a major upgrade but definitely not enough in the long run.
The scientific community was able to make game-changing observations using the Hubble which is why planning 15 years ahead is actually normal. With the 2018 JWST astronomers will push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, but that does not mean they plan to stop there.
One of the major uses of the HDST will be studding the atmosphere of Earth like planets, which will also be done by the using the JWST, however the 2030’s project will increase the capability to do this by taking astronomers where no man has been and allowing them to see places we do not even know of yet.
Image Source: spacetelescope.org