The NASA spy telescope is ready for the next stage of development.
The Widefield Infrared Surveying Telescope (WFIRST) has recently passed its preliminary design review, meaning that it met all the budget, schedule and performance requirements for the team to complete the design to start. If everything goes according to plan, WFIRST should start into space in the middle of the 2020s.
"It is an honor to work with such a dedicated and talented development team, each contributing to make the telescope technically sound, safe and reliable." Scott Smith, WFIRST Telescope Manager, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland , said in a statement by NASA . "It's exciting to envision our new telescope in space and to explore the universe, and we look forward to expanding the boundaries of human knowledge." Related: The best Hubble Space Telescope images ever!
WFIRST will investigate the evolution of Dark Energy and Dark Matter since the Big Bang, which has formed our universe Universe. Little is known about these mysterious substances, and a better understanding could help scientists learn more about why our universe is accelerating in its expansion.
The instrument will also examine exoplanets and our own Milky Way galaxy will investigate to see how frequent the structure of our solar system is.
WFIRST has a 2.4 m wide mirror and a 300-megapixel camera. Each field of view in WFIRST is 100 times larger than that of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (19459004) (19459005), but with the same resolution. The main instruments of the telescope are a wide-field instrument (to study dark matter, dark energy, and exoplanets) and a coronagraph hue to directly image exoplanets by obscuring the light emitted by their host stars.
This Coronagraph is Crucially Critical Scientists are studying nearby exoplanets that resemble those of our solar system, especially Earth-like exoplanets. According to NASA, the center of gravity of the coronograph will be on planets orbiting at a distance of about three to ten times the Earth's distance from the Sun.
In the latest astrophysical decade survey, published in 2010, WFIRST was named the highest flagship mission . However, WFIRST's plans took place in the midst of looming cancellations in the NASA budget both in 2019 and 2020 . It was restored in 2019 and will be reviewed for 2020. One of the main competitors for WFIRST funding is NASA's lengthy and over budgeted James Webb Space Telescope which is expected to launch in 2021.  Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace . Follow us on Twitter @SpaceTotcom and on Facebook .