40-foot wide orbital telescope can become JWST’s successor

40-foot wide orbital telescope can become JWST’s successor

Astronomers want to build a forty foot-wide orbital telescope, which will be dedicated for the search of life beyond earth. In the American Astronomical Society meeting this week, representatives from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) has shared this plan, which will act as the successor to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled to be launched in 2018 and run for up to a decade.

The future mission will not launch before 2030s. Astronomers have to find out answers to two important questions and those are humans alone in the universe and second question is how the building blocks of our universe have evolved over cosmic time.

In order to achieve the mission, there will be a need of spacecraft that is more advanced that ever being built by humans. One of the astronomers said that they are planning to build Hubble HD. Natalie Batalha, an astronomer who studies exoplanets at NASA’s Ames Research Center said, “The road to [discovering] living worlds requires an eight to 12 meter space-based telescope. This is what can consistently survey Sun-like stars within 30 parsecs”.

Astronomers said that JWST is scrawny in comparison to what they want to build in the 2030s. Batalha said that though they have modern technology, what they lack in is the capability to image a solar system analog.

There is a need of telescope with an enormous aperture in order to see and study small, rocky planets in the habitable zone of bright, G-type stars. By having such a type of telescope, starlight can be suppressed by a factor of 10 billion.

Main job of the massive telescope would be to help astronomers to earn how the building blocks of matter evolved over cosmic time. Astronomers also want to understand the formation and movement of elements. To have answer of these questions, there is need to have last ten billion years of interactions of gas and galaxies.

There are many technical challenges involved and that is the reason that astronomers are starting to think about JWST’s successor now.