What was once called the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will now be named the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, and I am very pleased about this.
The Roman Space Telescope (or RST) will be a game-changer: It's the same size as Hubble Space Telescope, with a 2.4-meter (8-foot) mirror, but designed to do very different astronomy. One of its instruments is a wide-field camera with 100 times the field of view of Hubble (!!), and the other is designed specifically to take direct images of planets orbiting nearby stars. It will be able to see light from visible wavelengths (what our eyes see) out to 2 microns (more than three times redder than our eyes can detect) in the infrared. This makes it a fantastic complement to the James Webb Space Telescope, which also sees in the infrared, but won't have nearly this wide a grasp of the sky.
I'll get back to the science in a sec, but I want to make sure you understand how wonderful it is that they've named after Nancy Grace Roman.
Roman was an absolute pioneer in modern astronomy. She had a lifelong love of the stars, beginning when she was a ...