NASA’s new Nancy Grace Roman Telescope is coming soon, just as people are still enthralled by all of those images from the new James Webb Telescope. The Roman Space Telescope is the top-priority large space mission recommended by the 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey. NASA awarded a NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract to Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corporation SpaceX to provide launch service for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope mission.
The new telescope is named for a former NASA Chief of Astronomy and Solar Physics the late Nancy Grace Roman, who died in 2018 at the age of 93. She served in this role from 1961 to 1963, at a time when there were barely any women working in the sciences like Physics and astronomy and few were studying such fields in college.
The Roman Space Telescope is a NASA observatory designed to unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, search for and image exoplanets, and explore many topics in infrared astrophysics.
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Scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will function as Hubble’s wide-eyed cousin.
The Roman Space Telescope has a 2.4 meter telescope, the same size as the Hubble telescope, but with a view 100 times greater than Hubble’s.
The Roman Space Telescope was the top-ranked large space mission in the 2010 Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
The telescope’s science program will include dedicated investigations to tackle outstanding questions in cosmology, including the effects of dark energy and dark matter, and exoplanet exploration. Roman also includes a substantial general investigator program to enable further studies of astrophysical phenomena to advance other science goals.
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will have a primary mission lifetime of 5 years, with a potential 5 year extended mission.
NASA boasts that the mission’s wide field of view will allow it to generate never-before-seen big pictures of the universe, which will help astronomers explore some of the greatest mysteries of the cosmos, including why the expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating. One possible explanation for this speed-up is dark energy, an unexplained pressure that currently makes up 68 percent of the total content of the cosmos and may have been changing over the history of the universe. Another possibility is that this apparent cosmic acceleration points to the breakdown of Einstein’s general theory of relativity across large swaths of the universe. The Roman Space Telescope will have the power to test both of these ideas.