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The next generation of giant space telescopes can be built from Earth.



  Some Assemblies are Required: The Next Generation Giant Space Telescope Can Be Powered by Land

The Hubble Space Telescope visited astronauts during the space shuttle missions from 1993 to 2009. service mission, when the telescope's mirror was fixed and a new camera was installed.

By NASA

When it comes to telescopes, size matters.

In order to continue to explore new things about the universe, astronomers are constantly building larger and better observatories to look at space both from the Earth and from the orbit. Engineers have already begun to develop the technology needed to create a new generation of modern space telescopes, but there is only one problem: these observatories may be too large to launch them into space. Astronomers and engineers who are already planning for the future are rapidly expanding the capabilities of the missiles that exist today. This is due to the fact that the potential of the telescope largely depends on its orifice or the diameter of the main mirror. New mega-carriers such as NASA's space launch may be large enough for next-generation space telescopes that NASA intends to launch in the 2030s, but if the next missions should sink into a rocket fender of the same size, these missions can sacrifice a certain scientific potential. [Giant Space Telescopes of the Future (Infographic)]

Instead of limiting the telescope's design to fit into the payload of the largest available missile, thereby setting limits to the amount of science that can be returned by its tools, NASA scientists are working to find new ways to Getting these heavy objects in space telescopes into orbit: launching them in parts and collecting them in space, either robotically or with the help of astronauts.

"Large telescopes give better angle resolution and better spectral resolution, so the future must bring great telescopes," said Mick Siegler, chief technology analyst at the NASA Exoplanet Research Program at a 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle in January. This higher resolution will allow the telescopes to see more of the universe, looking deeper and seeing it more clearly than ever before. It will also be particularly useful for the search and characterization of planets around other stars.

"Of course," great "is but the moving task forward is the same, "said Siegler." You have large structures that you are trying to put into smaller structures, and the amount of work that goes into it is really very large. "For example, a space telescope James Webba (JWST), which is currently scheduled to launch on the Ariane 5 missile in 2021

, will fit into the rocket airframe. When this telescope is ready for deployment, more than 200 movable parts need to be thoroughly deployed before the device can work, watching the sky.

JWST will be the largest space telescope ever launched, with its 6.5-meter mirror. . The Ariana 5, which will launch JWST, is a heavy-lift rocket that is commonly used to launch satellites into Earth's orbit. However, these missiles were also used to launch interplanetary missions, such as the BepiColombo mission of the European Space Agency to Mercury, launched in October last year. Although JWST has not yet begun, NASA scientists are already working on proposals for their successor. (Warning about the spoiler: they are even bigger than JWST!)

  The diagram compares the relative dimensions of the concept of the mission of the space telescope Origins and existing space telescopes. The diagram also shows the temperatures at which different telescopes should work.

The diagram compares the relative dimensions of the concept of the mission of the space telescope Origins and existing space telescopes. The diagram also shows the temperatures at which different telescopes should work.

NASA GSFC

NASA engineers are working on space observatory projects such as the Large Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) and the Origins Space Telescope (OST) has already cope with the limitations of today's missiles. For each of these two telescopes, engineers came up with two different design options: the 15-foot (50-foot) version that can launch on the upcoming NASA launch launch system (SLS) and the 8-foot (26-foot) version that can launch on Today's smaller and less powerful heavy-lift rockets. These smaller versions are NASA's back-up plans if the SLS is not ready on time;

Instead of waiting for someone to build a rocket that is large enough to support the types of space telescopes that scientists hope to launch in the future, NASA's team is exploring the possibilities of gathering in space. This process will not only eliminate the obstacles associated with the size of the missiles, but it can also reduce the cost of developing and launching new space telescopes, "says the study" inSpace Telescope "(iSAT)

Building a telescope in outer space is just the beginning. To make space telescopes a reality, NASA must prove that the process is not only feasible, but also cost-effective and not too risky. These factors largely depend on whether the assembly will be conducted by astronauts, robots or some combination of these two, explained at the meeting of the AAS members of the iSAT team.

Sending astronauts to work on a space telescope is not a new concept; NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, was served by astronauts between 1993 and 2009. Although astronauts did not originally build Hubble, they installed new equipment and carried out some major repairs at the Observatory. Astronauts have not visited any other space telescope since the last mission on Hubble's service.

Although spacecraft flying on missions served by Hubble has been released since 2011, NASA can send astronauts from the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway platform. This proposed lunar space station will serve as the launch pad for future missions to Mars.

But some researchers, like Siegler, believe that robots are better to build things in space. "Astronauts are expensive," he said. "We believe we can do it completely robotics." The robotic space telescope system will work as a robotic weapon at the International Space Station, he said.

This summer, the iSAT team strives to publish the latest results of its research on various options for

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow it @hannekescience . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.


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