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Author Topic:   NASA's Roman Space Telescope (WFIRST)
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 48732
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-18-2016 02:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Introduces New, Wider Set of Eyes on the Universe

After years of preparatory studies, NASA is formally starting an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe — the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

With a view 100 times bigger than that of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, WFIRST will aid researchers in their efforts to unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, and explore the evolution of the cosmos. It also will discover new worlds outside our solar system and advance the search for worlds that could be suitable for life.

NASA's Agency Program Management Council, which evaluates the agency's programs and projects on content, risk management, and performance, made the decision to move forward with the mission on Wednesday.

"WFIRST has the potential to open our eyes to the wonders of the universe, much the same way Hubble has," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. "This mission uniquely combines the ability to discover and characterize planets beyond our own solar system with the sensitivity and optics to look wide and deep into the universe in a quest to unravel the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter."

WFIRST is the agency's next major astrophysics observatory, following the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. The observatory will survey large regions of the sky in near-infrared light to answer fundamental questions about the structure and evolution of the universe, and expand our knowledge of planets beyond our solar system – known as exoplanets.

It will carry a Wide Field Instrument for surveys, and a Coronagraph Instrument designed to block the glare of individual stars and reveal the faint light of planets orbiting around them. By blocking the light of the host star, the Coronagraph Instrument will enable detailed measurements of the chemical makeup of planetary atmospheres. Comparing these data across many worlds will allow scientists to better understand the origin and physics of these atmospheres, and search for chemical signs of environments suitable for life.

"WFIRST is designed to address science areas identified as top priorities by the astronomical community," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington. "The Wide-Field Instrument will give the telescope the ability to capture a single image with the depth and quality of Hubble, but covering 100 times the area. The coronagraph will provide revolutionary science, capturing the faint, but direct images of distant gaseous worlds and super-Earths."

The telescope's sensitivity and wide view will enable a large-scale search for exoplanets by monitoring the brightness of millions of stars in the crowded central region of our galaxy. The survey will net thousands of new exoplanets similar in size and distance from their star as those in our own solar system, complementing the work started by NASA's Kepler mission and the upcoming work of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

Employing multiple techniques, astronomers also will use WFIRST to track how dark energy and dark matter have affected the evolution of our universe. Dark energy is a mysterious, negative pressure that has been speeding up the expansion of the universe. Dark matter is invisible material that makes up most of the matter in our universe.

By measuring the distances of thousands of supernovae, astronomers can map in detail how cosmic expansion has increased with time. WFIRST also can precisely measure the shapes, positions and distances of millions of galaxies to track the distribution and growth of cosmic structures, including galaxy clusters and the dark matter accompanying them.

"In addition to its exciting capabilities for dark energy and exoplanets, WFIRST will provide a treasure trove of exquisite data for all astronomers," said Neil Gehrels, WFIRST project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "This mission will survey the universe to find the most interesting objects out there."

WFIRST is slated to launch in the mid-2020s. The observatory will begin operations after travelling to a gravitational balance point known as Earth-Sun L2, which is located about one million miles from Earth in a direction directly opposite the Sun.

WFIRST is managed at Goddard, with participation by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, also in Pasadena, and a science team comprised of members from U.S. research institutions across the country.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 48732
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-23-2018 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA Awards Contract for Space Telescope Mission

NASA has awarded a contract to Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colorado, for the primary instrument components for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

Called the Wide Field Instrument (WFI) Opto-Mechanical Assembly, the cost-plus-award-fee contract has a value of approximately $113.2 million. The period of performance is from May 2018 through June 2026.

Managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, WFIRST is fully-funded for Fiscal Year 2018. Work will continue on the mission in this time period until appropriations for Fiscal Year 2019 have been determined.

The contract requires Ball Aerospace to design, analyze, develop, fabricate, integrate, test and evaluate the Wide Field Instrument Opto-Mechanical Assembly for the WFIRST mission. In addition, Ball will support the subsequent integration, test, evaluation, and validation of the WFI. Ball also will provide post-delivery support to payload and observatory integration and testing, and to prelaunch, launch and commissioning activities at the Mission Operations Center, and supply and maintain the instrument ground support equipment.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 48732
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-20-2020 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Telescope Named For 'Mother of Hubble' Nancy Grace Roman

NASA is naming its next-generation space telescope currently under development, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), in honor of Nancy Grace Roman, NASA's first chief astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe.

The newly named Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope – or Roman Space Telescope, for short – is set to launch in the mid-2020s. It will investigate long-standing astronomical mysteries, such as the force behind the universe's expansion, and search for distant planets beyond our solar system.

Considered the "mother" of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which launched 30 years ago, Roman tirelessly advocated for new tools that would allow scientists to study the broader universe from space. She left behind a tremendous legacy in the scientific community when she died in 2018.

"It is because of Nancy Grace Roman's leadership and vision that NASA became a pioneer in astrophysics and launched Hubble, the world's most powerful and productive space telescope," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "I can think of no better name for WFIRST, which will be the successor to NASA's Hubble and Webb Telescopes."

Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who worked with NASA on the Hubble and WFIRST space telescopes, said, "It is fitting that as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, NASA has announced the name of their new WFIRST telescope in honor of Dr. Nancy Roman, the Mother of Hubble – well deserved. It recognizes the incredible achievements of women in science and moves us even closer to no more hidden figures and no more hidden galaxies."

Who Was Nancy Grace Roman?

Born on May 16, 1925, in Nashville, Tennessee, Roman consistently persevered in the face of challenges that plagued many women of her generation interested in science. By seventh grade, she knew she wanted to be an astronomer. Despite being discouraged about going into science – the head of Swarthmore College's physics department told her he usually dissuaded girls from majoring in physics, but that she "might make it" – Roman earned a bachelor's degree in astronomy from Swarthmore in 1946 and a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1949.

She remained at Chicago for six years and made discoveries about the compositions of stars that had implications for the evolution of our Milky Way galaxy. Knowing that her chances of achieving tenure at a university as a woman were slim at that time, she took a position at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and made strides in researching cosmic questions through radio waves.

Roman came to NASA in 1959, just six months after the agency had been established. At that time, she served as the chief of astronomy and relativity in the Office of Space Science, managing astronomy-related programs and grants.

"I knew that taking on this responsibility would mean that I could no longer do research, but the challenge of formulating a program from scratch that I believed would influence astronomy for decades to come was too great to resist," she said in a NASA interview.

This was a difficult era for women who wanted to advance in scientific research. While Roman said that men generally treated her equally at NASA, she also revealed in one interview that she had to use the prefix "Dr." with her name because "otherwise, I could not get past the secretaries."

But she persisted in her vision to establish new ways to probe the secrets of the universe. When she arrived at NASA, astronomers could obtain data from balloons, sounding rockets and airplanes, but they could not measure all the wavelengths of light. Earth's atmosphere blocks out much of the radiation that comes from the distant universe. What's more, only a telescope in space has the luxury of perpetual nighttime and doesn't have to shut down during the day. Roman knew that to see the universe through more powerful, unblinking eyes, NASA would have to send telescopes to space.

Through Roman's leadership, NASA launched four Orbiting Astronomical Observatories between 1966 and 1972. While only two of the four were successful, they demonstrated the value of space-based astrophysics and represented the precursors to Hubble. She also championed the International Ultraviolet Explorer, which was built in the 1970s as a joint project between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the United Kingdom, as well as the Cosmic Background Explorer, which measured the leftover radiation from the big bang and led to two of its leading scientists receiving the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Above all, Roman is credited with making the Hubble Space Telescope a reality. In the mid-1960s, she set up a committee of astronomers and engineers to envision a telescope that could accomplish important scientific goals. She convinced NASA and Congress that it was a priority to launch the most powerful space telescope the world had ever seen.

Hubble turned out to be the most scientifically revolutionary space telescope of all time. Ed Weiler, Hubble's chief scientist until 1998, called Roman "the mother of the Hubble Space Telescope."

"Nancy Grace Roman was a leader and advocate whose dedication contributed to NASA seriously pursuing the field of astrophysics and taking it to new heights," said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science. "Her name deserves a place in the heavens she studied and opened for so many."

What is the Roman Space Telescope?

The Roman Space Telescope will be a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets and infrared astrophysics. The telescope has a primary mirror that is 2.4 meters (7.9 feet) in diameter and is the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope's primary mirror. The Roman Space Telescope is designed to have two instruments, the Wide Field Instrument and a technology demonstration Coronagraph Instrument. The Wide Field Instrument will have a field of view that is 100 times greater than the Hubble infrared instrument, allowing it to capture more of the sky with less observing time. The Coronagraph Instrument will perform high contrast imaging and spectroscopy of individual nearby exoplanets.

The WFIRST project passed a critical programmatic and technical milestone in February, giving the mission the official green light to begin hardware development and testing. With the passage of this latest key milestone, the team will begin finalizing the mission design by building engineering test units and models to ensure the design will hold up under the extreme conditions during launch and while in space.

NASA's Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act funds the WFIRST program through September 2020. It is not included in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request, as the administration wants to focus on completing the James Webb Space Telescope.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 48732
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-29-2021 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Telescope Science Institute release
Ground System for NASA's Roman Space Telescope Moves Into Development

When it launches in the mid-2020s, NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will revolutionize astronomy by building on the science discoveries and technological leaps of the Hubble, Spitzer, and Webb space telescopes. The mission's wide field of view and superb resolution will enable scientists to conduct sweeping cosmic surveys, yielding a wealth of information about celestial realms from our solar system to the edge of the observable universe.

On July 23rd, the Roman Space Telescope successfully completed the critical design review of the mission's ground systems, which are spread over multiple institutions including the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. STScI will host the Science Operations Center (SOC) while Goddard will provide the Mission Operations Center and Caltech/IPAC will house the Science Support Center. The passing of the critical design review means the plan for science operations provides all the necessary data processing and archiving capabilities. The mission will now proceed to the next phase: building and testing the newly designed systems that will enable planning and scheduling of Roman observations and managing the resulting data, anticipated to be over 20 petabytes (20,000,000 GB) within the first five years of operations.

"At STScI, we are really excited about the opportunities for discovery that Roman will bring. All areas of astrophysics will benefit," said STScI deputy director Nancy Levenson. "We are developing novel tools and new ways of working so the global research community can make best use of the advanced capabilities of this survey-oriented, 'big data' space mission."

"A lot of work is required to reach this stage in any space mission, and our team faced the added challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful completion of the critical design review is a testament to all of their efforts," said Cristina Oliveira, SOC deputy head at STScI.

In its role as Science Operations Center, STScI will plan, schedule, and carry out observations, process and archive mission datasets, and engage and inform the astronomical community and the public. STScI will collaborate closely with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which manages the mission and will host the Mission Operations Center (MOC). The MOC is responsible for overall spacecraft operations and overseeing the data transmitted between the spacecraft and the ground. The collaboration also includes Caltech/IPAC, home of the Roman Science Support Center (SSC), which works with the other ground system elements to achieve the scientific and operational goals of Roman.

The Science Support Center at Caltech/IPAC is tasked with issuing calls for Roman proposals to the general science community and managing the proposal process. It will also lead the Coronagraph Instrument observation planning and data products, and provide a data analysis environment for the instrument and community team. In addition, it is responsible for community outreach for both exoplanet science and science enabled by spectroscopic observations. The SSC is also developing and operating science data pipelines to process data from the Wide Field Instrument spectroscopic modes and for exoplanet microlensing science.

Goddard is developing the Wide Field Instrument to perform the major science surveys, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is developing the Coronagraph Instrument to perform exoplanet direct imaging observations.

Expanding Our View

Roman will be able to capture an area over 100 times larger than Hubble in a single snapshot. This will give it the unique ability to do wide-field surveys at space-based resolution, which will be the observatory's primary operating mode.

"Unlike Hubble and Webb, Roman is a survey mission first and foremost," explained acting SOC mission scientist John MacKenty of STScI. "Our role is to help gather input from the astronomical community, make those surveys ready for the community to do science, and give the community the tools they need to do their research."

Roman's surveys will generate mountains of data, creating new challenges for scientists seeking to analyze those data. As a result, STScI is spearheading the use of cloud-based computing for Roman data processing.

"Instead of sending the data to the astronomer, we're bringing the astronomer to the data," said SOC mission systems engineer Chris Hanley of STScI.

All of the data collected by the Roman Space Telescope will be accessible via the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) at STScI. Those data will be publicly available within days of the observations – a first for a NASA astrophysics flagship mission. Since scientists everywhere will have rapid access to the data, they will be able to quickly discover and follow up on short-lived phenomena, such as supernova explosions.

The Science of the Roman Space Telescope

Roman will enable new science in all areas of astrophysics. It can search for dwarf planets, comets, and asteroids in our solar system. It will image stars throughout our own galaxy to measure its structure and investigate its formation history. It will also survey the birthplaces of stars, giant nurseries of gas and dust which Roman's large field of view will be able to fully image at high resolution for the first time.

By staring deeply at wide swaths of apparently blank sections of sky, Roman will image an unprecedented number of galaxies with high resolution. Roman will map the distribution of dark matter within large clusters of galaxies and discover thousands of galaxies at very high redshifts, which will provide the tools to study how galaxies change over cosmic time.

Roman's surveys will deliver new insights into the history and structure of the universe, including the mysterious "dark energy" that is making space itself expand faster and faster. This powerful new observatory will also build on the broad foundation of work begun with Hubble and other observatories like Kepler/K2 and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on planets outside our solar system. It will discover thousands of exoplanets using its wide-field camera. Its Coronagraph Instrument will conduct a technology demonstration and, depending on its performance, may provide studies of the atmospheres of giant gaseous planets orbiting other stars.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 48732
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-19-2022 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Roman Space Telescope

NASA has awarded a NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract to Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, California, to provide launch service for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope mission. The Roman Space Telescope is the top-priority large space mission recommended by the 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey.

NLS II is an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. The total cost for NASA to launch the Roman telescope is approximately $255 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs. The telescope’s mission currently is targeted to launch in October 2026, as specified in the contract, on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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 telescope was previously known as the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST), but it was later renamed in honor of Dr. Nancy Grace Roman for her extraordinary work at NASA, which paved the way for large space telescopes.

NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch vehicle program management of the SpaceX launch service. The Roman Space Telescope project is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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