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NASA four choices: Which is the next flagship space telescope?

via:科技日报社-中国科技网     time:2018/12/27 9:02:10     readed:308

(Original title: Future Space Telescope, who will pick up the stick. NASA proposes four major proposals)

Our reporter Liu Xia

The four proposed telescopes for different wavelengths and targets are “striking for favor” and the lucky ones will be launched in the 1930s. Image source: Science magazinewebsite

Today's point of view

However, this does not stop the astronomers' dream of pursuing the stars and the sea. The Ten Years Survey in the field of astrophysics in the United States was launched last month to set priorities for the future tasks of NASA, the US Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. One of the key tasks is from four proposed telescope projects. Pick one and do the "successors" of JWST and WFIRST.

According to a report in Science, the "four golden flowers" that have now "surfaced" have their own merits. No matter which one is selected last, the key is to carry out cost control. Do not follow the footsteps of JWST and WFIRST.

Four major programs surfaced

The four proposed telescopes include the "Large UV/Optical/Infrared Gauge" (LUVOIR), a 15-meter-wide giant telescope with 40 times the light collection capability of the Hubble Space Telescope, designed to be traced back to the universe. The first galaxy, and clarify whether there is life in this part of the universe.

The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx) is also dedicated to answering the above questions, but its mirror is relatively small. HabEx will carry a football field sized stargazing board to fly together. The occultation plate blocks the glare of the stars and reveals exoplanets. HabEx will carefully examine the faint light from the exoplanets to find signals of life.

The Lynx Xray Observatory will collect X-rays from the first black holes in the universe to see how they help the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Equipment on the Origins Space Telescope cools the telescope to 4°C above absolute zero, studying infrared radiation from cold gases and dust that help stars and planets.

No matter which concept project is ultimately selected, the researchers hope that it is more fortunate than the "predecessor." The 2001 Ten Year Survey chose JWST as its top priority. If it goes well, the telescope will fly in 2021 after 20 years of mission. WFIRST is the first choice for the 2010 Ten Year Survey, but it will not be launched before 2025.

With these lessons, NASA hopes this time is more secure. The agency not only identified these four flagship concepts as early as 2015, but also funded teams to propose a rough design for each concept. In June 2019, these teams will submit a separate report to NASA, including two versions: an expensive and large high-budget version and a budget of no more than $5 billion.

Fighting for competition

The results of the Ten Year Survey will be submitted in 2020. Scientists hope to finally reach an agreement to work together to lobby Congress to allocate funds. But the competition between the four flagship projects themselves is also very intense.

The Origin Space Telescope hopes to study how dust and molecules fuse together to form the first galaxy and black hole, and how the discs around young stars gather into exoplanets. But JWST and Atacama's large millimeter-wave/sub-millimeter wave arrays in Chile capture some of the same wavelengths of light, which squeezes the space found in the Space Telescope.

As for Lynx, the X-ray Observatory will study the hot gases that are swirled into the black hole or ejected from the center of the Milky Way. It will excite the X-ray astronomers who have been sitting on the bench for many years.

Valuation to be determined

Dai said that the project team usually estimates the cost by calculating labor, materials and tests. "This is good, but it excludes unforeseen circumstances." Therefore, over the past decade, NASEM has been paying fees to El Segundo Aerospace, Calif., for its cost and technology assessment (CATE) model to analyze proposals that may be considered in the Ten Year Survey.

The CATE model can be traced back to decades ago.databaseIt includes more than 150 NASA tasks and 700 instrument cost and performance details. When a new task is proposed, CATE can inform people about the cost geometry of similar tasks in the past. Moreover, the biggest advantage of this model is its predictive power.

Although JWST is now the "sweet" in the minds of astronomers, they are also eager to hope that the winners of the "four golden flowers" can realize their dreams. The winner will be launched in the 1930s to the Lagrange 2 (L2) point, the point of gravity balance between the Sun and the Earth, to help scientists unravel the mystery of the universe.

(Technology Daily, Beijing, December 26th)

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