The first years of the existence of the universe are hidden from the human eye behind clouds of hot gas and subatomic particles. But the new wide-field infrared survey telescope (WFIRST) can finally uncover some of the greatest secrets of the young universe. In addition, the researchers do not rule out that the launch of WFIRST will help answer the famous question by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi: "Where is everything?" As recently reported on NASA's official website, experts from space agencies have recently developed and testing of equipment approved. One of the main tasks of the new space telescope will be to examine the universe in the infrared, which should help in the search for elusive dark energy.
WFIRST – a worthy successor to Hubble?
Yes The potential of the new space telescope is enormous – scientists hope to use it to obtain data about exoplanets and to explore the distant universe. and finally unravel the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy. Thanks to the latest technology, WFIRST is able to detect weak infrared signals over long distances and to create panoramas of space. In the past, not a single telescope could look so deep into the abyss of the cosmic ocean. Ultimately, the telescope is to replace the bastion of space science – Hubble. Thanks to this legendary telescope, some of the most incredible discoveries have been made about our universe, including the discovery of the most distant star known to science and the fact that the universe is expanding much faster than we thought.
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The new telescope will be equipped with a mirror that is the same size as the Hubble telescope, but with a larger view of space. Remember Hubble started in April 1990, but thanks to five service missions, the telescope is still working. WFIRST is again able to visualize areas in the sky that are 100 times better than those explored by Hubble. This is despite the fact that both telescopes are equipped with a 2.4 meter mirror to view the universe through them. NASA called the new telescope a Hubble cousin.
In search of dark energy
By observing the universe with high-tech tools like Hubble and WFIRST, astronomers hope to find out why the universe is starting to expand with acceleration. At the heart of this mystery, as our regular readers probably know, is dark energy – a mysterious form of energy that is believed to make up about 70% of the universe. Nevertheless, whatever we do, it remains completely elusive and invisible to us. But today everything can be changed. WFIRST aims to take the most accurate measurements of the effects of dark energy and dark matter on the universe by observing cosmic phenomena in action, including supernovae and the formation of galaxy clusters.
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The observations are then used to measure the rate of expansion of the universe. "To understand how the universe has evolved from hot, uniform gas to stars, planets, and humans, you need to examine the beginning of this process using the early days of the universe," said Jeffrey Crook, NASA's first employee at Goddard Space Flight center in Maryland.
In search of exoplanets
Since the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1992, scientists have searched for alien worlds and signs of life. To date, we have discovered around 4,000 exoplanets orbiting various stars. We got to know most of them thanks to the NASA-Kepler mission and the transit satellite Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). With the help of Hubble's cousin, scientists hope to find potentially inhabited exoplanets.
According to the Inverse publication, the launch of the WFIRST space telescope will take place in the mid-2020s, and the maximum forecast cost for the telescope is around $ 4 billion. Work on WFIRST will continue until September 2020 as part of the budget for the current financial year. However, NASA's 2021 budget plans to suspend WFIRST funding to focus on the James Webb telescope, which is slated to launch in March 2021. Well, we hope that the future of the WFIRST space telescope is not called into question.