Feature

Hubble on steroids

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Science  24 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6233, pp. 391
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6233.391

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Summary

As the Hubble Space Telescope's decades-long mission winds down, astronomers are worried about the future of optical and ultraviolet astronomy from space. Its designated successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is poised for launch in 2018. But the Webb telescope sees the universe in infrared light. Some astronomers are campaigning for a new space telescope, larger than Hubble but sensitive to the same range of wavelengths—"Hubble on steroids." Researchers are still debating designs for such a multibillion-dollar High-Definition Space Telescope, but they agree that it will need to be versatile enough to serve both astrophysics and exoplanet research—two fields with very different requirements. If the project can garner broad support, its supporters say it could reach the launch pad by the mid-2030s.