In its bid to unlock the secrets of the universe, NASA will be launching the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) any time in the mid-2020s.
WFIRST has a view that is 100 times larger than that of the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists will be able to utilize this telescope to search for new planets hospitable to life, understand the formation and origin of the cosmos, and unravel the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter.
"WFIRST has the potential to open our eyes to the wonders of the universe, much the same way Hubble has," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. "This mission uniquely combines the ability to discover and characterize planets beyond our own solar system with the sensitivity and optics to look wide and deep into the universe in a quest to unravel the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter."
The James Webb Space Telescope will launch in 2018 followed by WFIRST which will launch later by mid-2020. The key aspect of this astrophysics observatory is that it will scan the universe in almost infrared light to be able to analyze its dark mysteries from the beginning of them. It will also scan for exoplanets, planets beyond our solar system.
There is a Coronagraph instrument aboard the WFIRST which blocks the lights of each star to be able to read the light of other planets orbiting them. Blocking the light of the host star will help the instrument to perfectly measure the chemical signatures of planetary atmospheres.
"WFIRST is designed to address science areas identified as top priorities by the astronomical community," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington. "The Wide-Field Instrument will give the telescope the ability to capture a single image with the depth and quality of Hubble, but covering 100 times the area. The coronagraph will provide revolutionary science, capturing the faint, but direct images of distant gaseous worlds and super-Earths."
WFIRST will also be handy in tracking dark energy and dark matter which is the invisible matter filling out universe, while dark energy is the negative pressure that continues to facilitate the expansion of the universe. Understanding the distances between several supernovae will help scientists to analyze how well the universe has expanded over time.
WFIRST can be deployed to accurately analyze the shapes, positions, and distances between millions of galaxies so as to measure the amount and development of cosmic structures, and that includes clusters of galaxy and the dark matter upholding them.
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"In addition to its exciting capabilities for dark energy and exoplanets, WFIRST will provide a treasure trove of exquisite data for all astronomers," said Neil Gehrels, WFIRST project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "This mission will survey the universe to find the most interesting objects out there."