NASA is set to begin work on a massive new space telescope that can capture 100 times more than the Hubble.
The catchily dubbed Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will measure the effects of dark energy as well as searching for alien worlds beyond our solar system.
Due to launch in the mid-2020s, the super-telescope will be constructed partly from a leftover spy satellite.
The new telescope will be around the same size as the Hubble but thanks to a wider field of view, it will be able to capture 100 times more of the sky in a single shot.
“WFIRST has the potential to open our eyes to the wonders of the universe, much the same way Hubble has,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
”This mission uniquely combines the ability to discover and characterize planets beyond our own solar system with the sensitivity and optics to look wide and deep into the universe in a quest to unravel the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter,” he explained.
The powerful new telescope will complement the work carried out by NASA’s Kepler mission, by searching for potentially inhabitable exoplanets outside of our solar system.
In the meantime, NASA is set to launch the gigantic James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.
Named after James E. Webb, NASA’s second Administrator and a pivotal character in the Apollo moon missions, the telescope will enable scientists to look deeper into the history of the universe than ever before.
Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab