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NASA Approves Development of Universe-Studying, Planet-Finding Mission

4 Mar 2020, 18:00 UTC
NASA Approves Development of Universe-Studying, Planet-Finding Mission
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Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (Credit: NASA)

Editor’s Note: NASA continues to develop WFIRST even as the Trump Administration continues to try to kill it. The administration’s FY 2021 budget request cancels the telescope, a proposal Congress rejected last year.

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project has passed a critical programmatic and technical milestone, giving the mission the official green light to begin hardware development and testing.

The WFIRST space telescope will have a viewing area 100 times larger than that of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which will enable it to detect faint infrared signals from across the cosmos while also generating enormous panoramas of the universe, revealing secrets of dark energy, discovering planets outside our solar system (exoplanets), and addressing a host of other astrophysics and planetary science topics.

WFIRST’s design already is at an advanced stage, using components with mature technologies. These include heritage hardware –primarily Hubble-quality telescope assets transferred to NASA from another federal agency — and lessons learned from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – the agency’s flagship infrared observatory, targeted for launch next year.

With the passage of this latest key milestone, the team will begin finalizing the WFIRST ...

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