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Massive new space telescope planned

Posted on Sunday, 22 June, 2014 | Comment icon 26 comments

The telescope will provide an unprecedented view of the cosmos. Image Credit: NASA / Hubble
The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope will be able to observe extrasolar planets like never before.
Known as ATLAST ( Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope ), the telescope will be so large that it will be necessary to ferry its components in to space where astronauts will construct it in orbit at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth - four times further away than the Moon.

The telescope's primary mission will be to seek out signs of life on other worlds by looking for certain biosignatures (such as oxygen, methane etc. ) in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets.

"This telescope could see Earth-like planets around stars up to 30 light years away," said astrophysics professor Martin Barstow. "There are tens of thousands of stars within that distance and we estimate that at least a few thousand of those will be similar to the sun. Our guess is that we could find around 60 such planets."

The ambitious project will however require backing on a global scale.

"NASA will have to take the lead as it is the biggest space agency, but it is already in discussion with the European Space Agency," said Prof Barstow. "We are looking at a launch date around 2030 because that is how long these projects take."

Source: The Australian | Comments (26)

Tags: ATLAST, Space Telescope

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Troublehalf on 23 June, 2014, 16:58
When they say "Launch Date" do they mean the Telescope will be finished and working, or will 2030 be the "Launch Date" of the first component and the subsequent several years of building? Also, while I would like the liquid water areas in our own Solar System investigated, we still need to look further. I don't think it'll stop the possibility to explore such things as the telescope is going to be a constant thing once up. In fact, it might increase peoples interest in looking in the water areas in our Solar System. I think it's stupid that it isn't being do... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by Merc14 on 23 June, 2014, 17:54
I wouldn't expect this telescope to launch anytime soon, probably not until the James Webb Space Telescope is reaching its end of mission date(10 years planned mission with a tentative launch in 2018, way late and way overbudget but once it is out there and operational it will) although one has nothing to do with the other.
Comment icon #19 Posted by keithisco on 24 June, 2014, 20:28
It always seems a little pointless to me to try and discover planets that our great,great, great, great (ad infinitum) grand children would even have the opportunity to say "Hello" to. And it would be their great, great (you get the idea) grandchildren that get a response (wrong number, try again). It seems much more interesting and useful to explore our own Solar System first. Grand projects are one thing, but lets invest in earthbound projects (such as the LHC) to try to understand the fundamental laws that apply to us. There is so much in fundamental astro- physics that just do no... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 24 June, 2014, 21:45
"Interesting" is a very subjective term, what interests one person can bore another, so there is no point in discussing what is interesting and I'll just agree to differ with you. Understanding the fundamental laws that govern us are, I agree, important. How useful that knowledge will be only the future will tell. However I would argue that knowing our place within the universe is just as fundamental to our scientific knowledges as anything that the LHC will discover. Exploring the solar system is diminished if those discoveries can not be put into perspective. How does our sol... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by hammerclaw on 24 June, 2014, 22:36
That won't happen anytime soon. Before they deploy the cart, they'll have to build the horse.
Comment icon #22 Posted by TheGreatBeliever on 25 June, 2014, 13:14
Wat happens when u look at the sun with the telescope?
Comment icon #23 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 25 June, 2014, 14:21
You don't look at the Sun with the telescope. It will have very sensitive detectors designed to operate in very low light conditions. Pointing them at the Sun would permanently destroy them.
Comment icon #24 Posted by TheGreatBeliever on 26 June, 2014, 8:15
Thats wat i meant. Wat if one were to accidentally point it at the sun? Eyes too would be destroyed
Comment icon #25 Posted by Frank Merton on 26 June, 2014, 9:35
It isn't either/or.

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