Astro2020, a long-awaited report, was recently released. It details the events planned for the next two decades in astronomy and astrophysics and one of the things that have astrophysicists excited is the prospect of launching a new space telescope, possibly three times the size of Hubble.
The report was part of the Decadal Survey, which is a list of recommendations put forward by space experts for specific new telescopes, including the James Webb Telescope all the way back in the early 2020s. “We stand at the threshold of a new golden era of discovery, both on the ground and in space: might we actually find evidence for life on another planet?” Heidi Hammel, vice president for science at the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, said in a statement. “This report — true to its name — lays out robust pathways to answer this question, and we can be the generation that answers it.
Astronomers are now recommending a whole new fleet of telescopes, from infrared to X-rays and expand probing the galaxies over a wider range of frequencies. Out of these new telescopes, one could end up being the successor to NASA’s iconic Hubble Space Telescope that is reaching its retirement age soon. The new telescope is suspected to be three times bigger than Hubble and cost around $11 billion. According to reports, the telescope would be built by the end of this decade and launched in the mid 2040s.
This new technologically advanced telescope will be designed to image potentially habitable exoplanets and probe their atmospheres for signs of extraterrestrial life. This is on top of the bucket list for many astronomers as they would like to experience having a conversation with an alien once in their life time!