NASA & # 39; s next flagship telescope is the James Webb spacecraft, but the long-term direction of NASA & # 39; s research remains uncertain.
The space agency of America has now turned to a team of expert astronomers to choose the ultimate successor that will be built and sent to space in the 2030s.
Four very different designs have been put forward that are designed to look for extraterrestrial life, distant earthy worlds, black holes and the birth of new galaxies and energy-rich gas discs.
All four proposed missions look very different and the weighty decision is likely to improve NASA research for decades to come.
Scroll down for video
Analysis of the Great Observatory program in the 1970s gave the scientific community, and the rest of the world, access to analysis of the full spectrum of electromagnetic light from gamma radiation to infrared radiation. The four proposed telescopes (shown) are each designed to focus on a specific region
LUVOIR will continue a mission similar to the one that has been treated by Hubble over the last twenty years and will study the first stars of the universe to find signs of life and the creation of worlds.
It is nearly 50 feet (15 meters) wide and has 40 times the light-gathering power of Hubble, thanks to 120 different segments that work in harmony to deliver extremely high-resolution data.
Each individual section is powered by pistons, allowing it to erect itself and also fold as a 25-ton piece of origami.
HabEx specializes exclusively on the last goal of LUVOIR and only looks for signs of habitable planets. He goes on a journey with a spacecraft designed to block disturbing glare from a nearby star.
With this star field on a soccer field HabEx can obtain detailed images of exoplanets.
Lynx is designed to make Chandra succeed in analyzing X-ray emissions from the universe spewed through black holes.
By following this path, scientists may be able to merge the mysteries of how galaxies and galaxies form.
Origins takes an approach unlike any of the other three and is designed to study a specific band of infrared radiation that is produced by cold gases and cooled holds of space dust that eventually converge to form planets and stars.
It will obtain this cold data by being constantly cooled to within four degrees of absolute zero (-273.15 ° C) – the temperature at which all motion stops, even that of atoms.
NASA has created designs of the four concepts and has said the winner is likely to be placed on L2 – an astronomical position a million miles beyond the Earth and in the opposite direction from the sun.
WHAT IS A LANGRAIN POINT?
A Lagrange point is a place in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large bodies are equivalent to the centrifugal force of another body.
The way the forces work together creates a net aiming force of zero and makes it possible for an object to remain stationary in space.
These points are named after Joseph-Louis Lagrange, an 18th-century mathematician who wrote about it in 1772.
major astronomical bodies have five points – labeled L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5.
L1, L2 and L3 are all unstable because they are completely dependent on a fragile balance.
L4 and L5 are much more stable.
L1 – Between the two objects. This location between the sun and the earth is currently occupied by SOHO – Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and the Deep Space Climate Observatory.
L2 – The second place is a million miles beyond the earth and in the opposite direction from the sun. This is currently occupied by NASA & Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and will be the target area for the upcoming James Web telescope.
L3 – This place is behind the sun and away from the earth. This place remains, until now, unoccupied.
L4 and L5 – They lie along the orbit of the earth at 60 degrees before and behind the earth.
NASA has created the four concepts and said they are likely to be placed on L2 – an astronomical position a million miles beyond Earth and in the opposite direction from the sun
Lynx will effectively follow Chandra in analyzing X-ray emissions from the universe that have been swept away by black holes. It is thought that following this path will allow scientists to merge the mysteries of how galaxies and galaxies are formed
This is what is known as a Lagraige point and is a parking space in the room where the varying gravity and cetrifugal forces are balanced in a precarious balance.
With only minor adjustments to its trajectory, the vessel remains in a stationary position in space.
All concepts (except Lynx, which is linked to a trip aboard an unknown heavy launcher) would be given space on the not yet completed Space Launcher System (SLS) from NASA.
By offering more mass, volume and energy to accelerate space missions than any launching instrument, SLS is designed to evolve over several decades to stay up to date with modern technologies and load capacities.
The unmanned cargo flight of the huge rocket is currently scheduled for December 2019 and it will be one of the largest and most powerful rockets ever made.
HOW DOES NASA'S SPACE WORK UP THE ROCKET ROCKET SYSTEM?
Space Launch System, or SLS, is a launch vehicle that NASA hopes to bring its astronauts back to the moon and beyond.
The unmanned cargo flight of the huge rocket is currently scheduled for December 2019.
The rocket will have an initial lift configuration set to start in the mid-2020s, followed by an upgraded & # 39; evolved lift capacity & # 39; which can carry heavier payloads. Nasa has yet to set a timeline for the second iteration of SLS.
Space Launch System First lifting capacity
– Maiden flight: Mid-2020 & # 39; s
– Height: 311 feet (98 meters)
– Lift: 70 tons
– Weight: 2.5 million kilograms (5.5 million lbs)
Space Launch System Evolved Lift Capability
– Maiden flight: Unknown
– Height: 384 feet (117 meters)
– Lift: 130 tons
– Weight: 2.9 million kilograms (6.5 million lbs)
NASA's Space Launch System has an initial lift configuration (second from the right), set to start in the mid-2020s, followed by an upgraded & # 39; evolved lift capacity & # 39; (far right) that can perform heavier payloads
HabEx specializes exclusively on the last goal of LUVOIR and looks closely at the signs of habitable planets. He goes on a trip with a spacecraft to block the annoying glare of a nearby star. With this starfield on soccer field, HabEx can obtain detailed detailed images of exoplanets, unlike anything that has been seen before
WHAT IS THE TELESCOPE OF THE HUBBLE SPACE?
The Hubble telescope was launched on 24 April 1990 via the Discovery space shuttle from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble, who was born in 1889 in Missouri.
He is probably the most famous to discover that the universe is expanding and the speed at which that happens – now coming up with the Hubble constant.
The Hubble telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble, who was born in Missouri in 1889 (photo)
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and helped with the publication of more than 15,000 scientific articles.
It revolves around the earth at a speed of approximately 17,000 mph (27,300 km / h) in a low orbit around the earth at approximately 340 miles in height.
Hubble has the target accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is similar to being able to shine a laser beam aimed at Franklin D. Roosevelt's head about a dime about 320 kilometers away.
The Hubble telescope is named after Edwin Hubble, who was responsible for coming up with the Hubble constant and is one of the greatest astronomers of all time
The primary mirror of Hubble is 2.4 meters long and is 13.3 meters long – the length of a large school bus.
The launch and deployment of Hubble in April 1990 was the most important advance in astronomy since the Galileo telescope.
Thanks to five maintenance missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place in it has never been the same.
Hubble, Chandra and Kepler have been flying the flag of NASA for decades, but these spacecraft are aging rapidly and are beginning to show signs of deterioration.
In October, both Hubble and Chandra unexpectedly went offline and astronomers around the world went into scientific darkness, while Kepler retired at the end of the same month.
Their Hubble and Chandra missions have been regularly extended and they are expected to remain in operation until the much-maligned James Webb telescope can finally come into space.
The replacement flagship telescope, named after NASA's second manager, is plagued by delays and has now spent $ 800 million on its huge $ 8 billion budget.
It is designed to study the origins of the first stars of the universe and their weak light, but cracked sunshades and loose bolts are some of the reasons that cause slowness.
It was first earmarked for a launch in October 2018 and is now scheduled for its virgin voyage in March 2021.
NASA is now fighting competition from the private sector (SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic) and other nations (Russia & # 39; s Roscosmos, the CNSA of China and even the Indian Space Research Organization).
These machines have been invaluable for the advancement of modern science, but are deteriorating as they age and NASA has no plan to replace the ailing technology.
WHAT IS THE TELESCOPE OF JAMES WEBB?
The James Webb telescope has been described as a & # 39; time machine & # 39; it can help to unravel the secrets of our universe.
The telescope will be used to look back at the first galaxies born more than 13.5 billion years ago in the early universe, and to observe the sources of stars, exoplanets and even the moons and planets of our solar system.
The huge telescope, which has already cost more than $ 7 billion (£ 5 billion), is considered a successor to the surrounding Hubble space telescope
The James Webb telescope and most of its instruments have an operating temperature of about 40 Kelvin – about minus 387 Fahrenheit (minus 233 degrees Celsius).
Officials say the cost may be higher than the $ 8 billion (£ 5.6 billion) ceiling set by the US Congress. The space agency has already deposited $ 7 billion (£ 5 billion) in the telescope.
Launched in 2020, it will become & # 39; the world's largest and most powerful telescope, which can peer 200 million years after the big bang.
In January, the telescope was successfully tested in a giant vacuum chamber in the Johnson Space Center – proving that it will function in the deep space.
The telescope went through 100 days of cryogenic testing in which the temperatures dipped hundreds of degrees below freezing to ensure that it functioned in extreme cold.
Origins takes an approach unlike any of the other three and is designed to study a specific band of infrared radiation that is produced by cold gases and cooled holds of space dust that eventually converge to form planets and stars. It will achieve this by being constantly within four degrees of absolute zero (-273.15 ° C) – the temperature at which all motion stops, even that of atoms
They have been developed to help map distant galaxies, look into black holes and find new planets, but astronomers fear that their eyes in the sky will soon go out.
Launched in 1990, Hubble stopped functioning in October, stopping its work and convincing scientists who are completely dependent on the 28-year-old machine by their dependence on technology that was first designed in the 1970s.
The Chandra X-ray telescope is now in its 20th year of use and has exceeded its expected operational life by almost 15 years.
Chandra went into the so-called safe mode in October due to a gyro problem.
& # 39; The cause of Chandra's safe mode on October 10 is now understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to the normal pointing mode & # 39 ;, said NASA at the time.
It claimed that safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra's gyroscopes, resulting in a period of three seconds of bad data, which in turn led to the calculation of an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum .
The incorrect moment display then activated the safe mode.
& # 39; The team has made plans to change the gyroscope and place the gyroscope that has experienced the failure in reserve, & # 39; said NASA.
Hubble went into hibernation due to a similar gyroscope failure.
NASA claims that the problems with Chandra have been resolved, but it remains low on fuel and it is unclear how long it will remain functional.
The space agency says it is coincidental that Chandra and Hubble fell asleep within a week of & # 39 ;.
Analysis of the Great Observatory program in the 1970s gave the scientific community, and the rest of the world, access to analysis of the full spectrum of electromagnetic light from gamma radiation (Compton Gamma Ray Observatory) to infrared radiation (the Spitzer Space Telescope).
The other two telescopes in this program – Hubble and Chandra – analyze visible / near-ultraviolet light and X-rays respectively.
WHAT IS THE CHANDRA X-RAY OBSERVATORY?
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emissions from very hot areas of the universe, such as exploded stars, galaxy clusters, and black hole matter.
Because X-rays are absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, Chandra has to circle above it, up to a height of 139,000 km in space.
It was launched on July 23, 1999 and is sensitive to x-ray sources that are 100 times weaker than any previous x-ray telescope, made possible by the high angle resolution of the mirrors.
There are no concrete plans from Nasa to replace Chandra and to further study the X-ray wavelength of light.
The Chandra X-ray telescope is now in its 20th year of use and has exceeded its expected operational life by almost 15 years.
Chandra went into the so-called safe mode in October due to a gyro problem.
LUVOIR will continue a mission similar to that which has been treated so admirably by Hubble over the last twenty years and will study the first stars of the universe to find signs of life and creation. It is nearly 50 feet (15 meters) wide and has 40 times the light-gathering power of the Hubble thanks to 120 different segments that are all driven by pistons to allow themselves to build up and fold like a 25-ton piece of origami
Among them, they would find the mysteries behind the most energetic explosions in the universe and help them unravel; black holes, exoplanets and newborn stars.
Compton died in 2001 after a gyro problem, making it useless and Spitzer is expected to die within a year.
Nasa expects that both remaining telescopes will continue to work in the 2020s.
& # 39; People suddenly realized that Hubble will not live forever, & # 39; said Tom Brown, the head of the Hubble mission at the Space Telescope Science Institute.
If Hubble fails, there will be no visible or ultraviolet telescopes on that scale.
This, says Dr. Brown, is a leading scientist who wonders what happens next.
As with the visible light spectrum, there are no concrete plans from NASA to replace Chandra and to further study the X-ray wavelength of light.
Gamma-radiation astrophysicist Julie McInery, the project scientist for Fermi, the smaller successor to Compton, said: & You must have a minimal level of activity in a particular telescope area to maintain community expertise so that you can continue to building instruments. & # 39;
Kepler was the first spacecraft to inspect the planets in our own galaxy, and over the years the observations confirmed the existence of more than 2,600 exoplanets – many of which may have been the most important targets in the search for extraterrestrial life
Kepler, the famous telescope in search of aliens, died at the end of October, further propagating the problems of NASA.
The outdated telescope was expected to run out of fuel in the near future, but it was unclear exactly when this would happen.
NASA confirmed that Kepler was officially without fuel and that it would no longer continue scientific operations during a teleconference.
According to NASA, the now retired spacecraft is in a & # 39; safe orbit, away from the earth & # 39 ;.
Kepler was launched in 2009 and became known by his team as & # 39; the small spacecraft that could & # 39; went beyond NASA's expectations.
It was the first spacecraft to investigate the planets in our own galaxy, and over the years the observations confirmed the existence of more than 2,600 exoplanets – many of which may have been the most important targets in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Before Kepler, astronomers had never found planets outside the solar system.
& # 39; As NASA & # 39; s first mission on the planetary hunt, Kepler has vastly exceeded our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond, & # 39; said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the NASA Science Missions Directorate in Washington.
& # 39; Not only did it show us how many planets are possible, it led to a whole new and robust field of research that the scientific community has conquered by storm, & # 39; said Zurbuchen.
& # 39; The discoveries have shed new light on our place in the universe, illuminating the alluring mysteries and possibilities under the stars. & # 39;
Kepler successfully transferred data from his last observation campaign to the earth at the beginning of October. All this is now in the archive and publicly available, says the Kepler team.
WHAT WERE THE HIGHEST DISCOVERIES OF THE KEPLER?
The Kepler telescope was launched in 2009 and has helped in the search for planets outside the solar system.
The satellite usually looks at & # 39; earth-like & # 39; planets, which means that they are rocky orbits within the orbit of a star's habitable or & # 39; Goldilocks & # 39; zone.
If a planet is in a habitable zone, it means that it is not too hot or too cold to form water on the surface of the planet, one of the most important living conditions.
While the planet has found thousands of exoplanets during its eight-year mission, five have been released.
Kepler-452b, named & # 39; Earth 2.0 & # 39 ;, has many features with our planet, despite being 1,400 light years away. It was found by NASA's Kepler telescope in 2014
1) & # 39; Earth 2.0 & # 39;
In 2014, the telescope made one of his greatest discoveries when he saw exoplanet Kepler-452b, named & # 39; Earth 2.0 & # 39 ;.
The object shares many characteristics with our planet despite being 1,400 light years away.
It has a orbit of a similar size as the earth, receives approximately the same amount of sunlight and has the same length of the year.
Experts still don't know for sure if the planet is home to life, but suppose that if plants are transferred there, they are likely to survive.
2) Found the first planet to spin two stars
Kepler found a planet in orbit around two stars in 2011, known as a binary star system.
The system, known as Kepler-16b, is around 200 light-years from the earth.
Experts compared the system with the famous & # 39; double sunset & # 39; on the home planet Tatooine by Luke Skywalker in & # 39; Star Wars: A New Hope & # 39 ;.
The Trappist-1 star system (artist & # 39; s impression), which holds a record of seven earth-like planets, was one of the greatest discoveries of 2017. Kepler saw the system in 2016, but scientists revealed the find in a series of papers in February were issued this year
3) Find the first habitable planet outside the solar system
Scientists found Kepler-22b in 2011, the first habitable planet found by astronomers outside the solar system.
The habitable super-earth appears to be a large, rocky planet with a surface temperature of approximately 72 ° F (22 ° C), comparable to a spring day on Earth.
4) A & # 39; super-earth & # 39; to discover
The telescope found its first & # 39; super-earth & # 39; in April 2017, a huge planet called LHS 1140b.
It is about a red dwarf star at about 40 million light-years away, and scientists think it contains gigantic oceans of magma.
5) Finding the & # 39; Trappist-1 & # 39; star system
The Trappist-1 star system, which houses a record of seven earth-like planets, was one of the greatest discoveries of 2017.
Each of the planets, which orbit around a dwarf star for only 39 million light years, is likely to retain water on the surface.
Three of the planets have such good conditions that scientists say that life has already evolved on them.
Kepler saw the system in 2016, but scientists revealed the discovery in a series of articles that were released in February this year.
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) sciencetech (t) NASA