Astronomers propose giant super Hubble replacement

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

A major university consortium that manages many ground- and space-based telescopes has proposed that a new giant optical space telescope be built to replace Hubble.

A report published today by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C., lays out the rationale for another orbiting observatory. It will have a mirror as big as 12 meters across, to both look for habitable planets around other stars and peer deep into the early aeons of the universe.

Hubble has a mirror 2.4 meters across, so this would be significantly larger. In fact, if built this new space telescope would make it bigger than any ground-based telescope that exists today.

As the article notes, the cost over-runs and delays of the infrared James Webb Space Telescope — which went from a $1 billion budget to $8 billion — will likely make Congress reluctant to fund a new giant project like this. Nonetheless, this report gives us a hint of where the astronomy community wants to head in future decades. For the past two decades they have poo-pooed the construction of a new and larger optical space telescope. It appears from this report that this culture is now changing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *