Astronomers propose a giant space telescope likely to cost $10 billion

Astronomers propose a giant space telescope likely to cost $10 billion

An influential group of US astronomers have proposed the building of the High-Definition Space Telescope (HDST), the biggest and most advanced space telescope, according to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) report published on July 6. The HDST would complement the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will be launched in 2018 and will observe the universe at infrared wavelengths. The astronomers proposing the HDST envision the telescope to have a mirror up to 12 metres across, which is 5 times the width of the 2.4-metre Hubble Space Telescope. They believe that the HDST would be able to explore the existence of life in the universe by studying exoplanets, and answer some of the wider astrophysical questions. The HDST would probably cost $10 billion or more, and NASA might have to partner with other space agencies to turn the proposal into a reality. Alan Dressler, an astronomer at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, who led the 1996 study that led to JWST states that advocates of the HDST “might want to consider a scaled-down version of the HDST alongside the ambitious 12-metre proposal.”

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