In order to know how the universe will end, we must know what has happened to it so far. This is just one mystery NASA’s forthcoming Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission will tackle as it explores the distant cosmos. The spacecraft’s giant camera, the Wide Field Instrument (WFI), will be fundamental to this exploration.
The WFI has just passed its preliminary design review, an important milestone for the mission. It means the WFI successfully met the design, schedule and budget requirements to advance to the next phase of development, where the team will begin detailed design and fabrication of the flight hardware.
WFIRST is a next-generation space telescope that will survey the infrared universe from beyond the orbit of the Moon. Its two instruments are a technology demonstration called a coronagraph, and the WFI. The WFI features the same angular resolution as Hubble but with 100 times the field of view. Data it gathers will enable scientists to discover new and uniquely detailed information about planetary systems around other stars. The WFI will also map how matter is structured and distributed throughout the cosmos, which should ultimately allow scientists to discover the fate ...