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Fri Jan 11, 2019, 01:49 AM

Space Telescopes of the Future: NASA Has 4 Ideas for Great Observatory to Fly in 2030s

By Hanneke Weitering, Space.com Staff Writer | January 10, 2019 12:14pm ET

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NASA's Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) is one of four astrophysics missions that could be selected to launch in the mid-2030s.
Credit: NASA

SEATTLE NASA still hasn't launched its new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a successor to the beloved and aging Hubble Space Telescope. But the agency is already preparing for an even bigger and better space observatory to eventually replace JWST.

Four teams of NASA scientists are getting ready to submit their proposals for future flagship-class astrophysics missions the most expensive of all NASA's science missions. Of the four, only one mission concept will be selected to launch in the mid-2030s.

The four mission-concept studies were detailed here at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) this week (Jan. 6-10), even though many of the NASA scientists were furloughed due to the government shutdown and unable to attend the conference.

Each of the proposed missions is a space telescope designed to study things like stars, galaxies, black holes, alien planets and objects within Earth's solar system. The telescopes would probe the mysteries of the universe by detecting different wavelengths of light, from low-energy infrared to high-energy ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.


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