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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

American astronomers want a huge telescope to find new terrestrial planets

Astronomers will now use spectroscopy to examine how matter and light interact, and begin studying the atmosphere of a large hot world to find evidence of biological features or other signs of life on planets.

The second new priority announced in the report: trying to understand what happened at the earliest moments of our universe by exploring the nature of black holes, white dwarfs, and star explosions. By launching projects such as the laser interferometer space antenna, this is a proposed space probe that will detect and measure gravitational waves. Research in this field can help scientists discover new physics and deepen our understanding of astronomical measurement.

The third priority will try to solve the problem of the origin and evolution of galaxies and determine how these astronomical systems are intertwined. In particular, researchers hope to use spectroscopy to study the various structures that make up the surrounding environment of galaxies.

A new way to plan tasks

The committee’s report also stated that NASA should develop a new plan to change the way the project is planned and developed.

González said: “Instead of recommending and approving a mission that takes many years, what we suggested to NASA is to create a project that we call the Great Observatory Mission and Technology Maturity Plan, and design and develop technology for the mission before the mission is completed. Formally recognized. of.”

The plan will develop technologies several years in advance, which will be used in any space mission, and provide early inspection and review in the process. Usually this process starts when the task is recommended, but the program aims to halve the time between recommendation and start.

The report suggests that, considering how much time and money it takes to develop mission concepts, a new approach can help increase the number of large-scale projects that NASA can carry out at one time. González said that whether they will eventually fly is not a problem. It’s about getting the right resources and support as early as possible.

The first mission to enter the new program will be a space-based telescope that will use high-contrast imaging to provide new data on related exoplanets, which is consistent with Astro2020’s main priorities. Much larger than the Hubble Space Telescope, it will be able to observe planets that are at least 10 billion times darker than their stars. This will profoundly change the way astronomers view the known universe.

Today, the estimated cost of the project is about 11 billion U.S. dollars, and if approved by NASA, it may not launch until the early 2040s.

on the ground

For ground-based observatories, the highest recommendation of the committee is to continue to invest in the U.S. Very Large Telescope Program, which currently consists of three elements: Chile’s Giant Magellan Telescope, Hawaii’s Thirty Meter Telescope and the National Science Foundation’s National Optics in Arizona Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory.

Astro2020 also recommends replacing the Karl Jansky Very Large Array and Very Long Baseline Array with The next generation of very large arrays, A more sensitive radio observatory will be built at the end of this century.

The report stated that the success of each of these projects is essential if the United States wants to maintain its leading position in the field of terrestrial astronomy.

González said that she hopes that this year’s report will bring new discoveries beyond the scientific community. “This community is not just astronomers,” she said. “It’s an astronomer and someone who benefits from astronomy.”

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