NASA is working hard on the next generation of space-based telescopes to replace the Hubble and allow astronomers and scientists worldwide to understand the cosmos better. One of the future space telescopes is called the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, or Roman Space Telescope for short. NASA recently announced the primary mirror for the space telescope that will collect and focus light was completed.
Roman will use the 7.9-foot diameter mirror to capture space images with a field of view 100 times greater than that of the iconic Hubble. Scott Smith, Roman telescope manager for NASA said that completing the primary mirror is an exciting milestone. Once placed in orbit, the Roman space telescope will be able to peer through dust and across vast stretches of space to study the universe using infrared light.
The primary mirror is critical to any telescope, and the level of detail it’s able to see is directly related to the mirror. The larger the mirror, the more light the telescope can gather, allowing finer resolution of features viewed in the cosmos. Romans mirror is the same size as the mirror used in the Hubble but is one fourth the weight.
Roman’s primary mirror weighs 410 pounds, the massive weight reduction compared to Hubble’s mirror is thanks to improvements in technology over the decades. The telescope will have two science instruments, including the Wide Field Instrument and Coronagraph Instrument. The Wide Field Instrument is a 300-megapixel camera able to provide the same resolution Hubble offers with nearly 100 times the field of view.
The chronograph is intended to allow the telescope to see planets almost a billion times fainter than the host star to enable the detailed study of exoplanets and other solar systems. Roman will be placed in a vantage point 930,000 miles away from Earth, pointing in the opposite direction of the sun.