Hunting ‘Dark Energy’ on NASA’s Next Big Telescope
WFIRST will have a vast perspective of the sky in high resolution, shown here versus what the Hubble Space Telescope sees. Photo: NASA
WFIRST Will Deliver Biggest Picture of the Sky Yet
Lockheed Martin is beginning instrument studies for the next of NASA’s big telescopes, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope. The Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California, won a concept study for a major part of the Wide Field Imager, which is the primary infrared instrument for the mission.
“WFIRST and JWST will have complementary missions, and WFIRST will be the big-picture instrument that can capture objects of interest, and then JWST can zoom in with more sensitive instruments like NIRCam to get more details,” Dr. Nordt said.
NASA is sponsoring the ATC to study implementation concepts for the Wide Field Imager Optical-Mechanical Assembly. Lockheed Martin was one of two companies who received study contracts, and the period of performance begins this month, running through July. After that, NASA plans to award a longer formulation study in October. The current study encompasses designs for optical systems, mechanisms, structure, electronics and thermal control components.
“We have the experience NASA is looking for,” Dr. Nordt said. “The structure is based on the Hubble Space Telescope, and the instrument has similarities to NIRCam. We’re going to leverage our full experience and propose some new technologies that will position us well for the next stage of competition.”