What takes over hundreds of scientists and nearly 20,000 engineers to construct? a space telescope – notably the James Webb Space Telescope. In its first six months of science operations, NASA’s newest observatory produced an abundance of amazing results, so the work was thankfully well worth it.
However, what follows? On Thursday, January 12, the final day of the 241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Seattle and virtually, John Mather—a Nobel Prize–winning astronomer and a driving force behind the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb or JWST)—shared his ideas for what those engineers and scientists might tackle next.
Mather has been involved in astronomy since the 1980s, when the first concepts for the Next Generation Space Telescope (later known as JWST) were floated. This is even before the Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990.
Decenaries Of Upheavel From Boffins
A dream like JWST required decades of innovation from innumerable scientists and engineers, including developing “new kinds of detectors” to allow the telescope to conduct the desired observations.
According to Mather, the same commitment and innovation will be needed to achieve the next major astronomical goals. He stated in his address to the convention that JWST “is a demonstration that we can do hard things.” “And we’ll keep doing difficult things,”
There are many objectives out there that are circling in astronomers’ heads, some of which are closer than others. I’ll only tell you the amazing things that are coming that most interest me because I can’t possibly tell you about them all, Mather stated.
Parallelism Among Two Divergent Projects
The European project Euclid and NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, both of which will look for hints in the enduring riddles of dark matter and dark energy, are among the fascinating new observatories that will be online in the upcoming months and years.
The enormous Vera Rubin Observatory, now under construction in Chile’s high deserts, will search the entire sky for minute changes known as transients.
Significance Of ” The Astro2020″ Decadel View
Looking further out, the Astro2020 Decadal Survey, a significant body, has proposed the “Habitable Worlds Observatory,” the mega-successor to Hubble and JWST, as the next extremely ambitious project.
Mather asserted that he believes this project is doable and might even be simpler to finish than JWST, which was infamous for its inability to stick to schedules and budgets.
Estimate On The Starship
He said it would even be feasible to build the Habitable Worlds Observatory and other next-generation telescopes in space rather than on the ground because rocket technology is constantly improving—and getting cheaper.
It’s not only about space telescopes, either. 98-foot (30-meter)-diameter big telescopes are expected to change astronomy in the near future, according to Mather.
And he’s dreaming even bigger than the official NASA plans: Perhaps one day, these earthly behemoths will even collaborate with space observatories in what Mather refers to as “hybrid space-ground” configurations.
For instance, one important method used by ground-based astronomers makes use of tiny devices called coronagraphs that obstruct stars and expose dim neighbouring planets. Mather speculated that one day we would be able to launch a massive starshade into orbit and sync it with the telescope that is located on the ground.
We don’t know where these goals will lead us, but up to this point, every time our technology has advanced, we’ve discovered something brand-new and learned a tonne about the universe.
What we’ll see with all this new technology, Mather posed a rhetorical question as he concluded his address. There are a lot more intricacies and a lot more distance than you can see now, he added, adding, “I don’t know.”