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Everything you know about NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope

Posting time:2023-02-02 09:00:59

Everything you know about NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope

NASA has many space telescopes in operation, from the well-known large telescopes used for various projects, such as the Hubble and James-Webb Space Telescopes, to the lesser-known ones such as NuSTAR, which observes X-ray wavelengths; Or Swift, which investigates gamma-ray bursts. But soon, they will be joined by another large space telescope, with the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope scheduled to launch in 2027. The Roman Telescope will work on projects such as finding new exoplanets and understanding dark energy. The telescope is named after Nancy Grace Roman, the "mother of the Hubble Space Telescope," who outfitted the Hubble Space Telescope with decades of work. The Roman Telescope will have a primary mirror with a diameter of 2.4 meters, the same size as Hubble. But its instruments will observe a wider field of view, including one 100 times larger than Hubble's infrared instruments. This will allow the telescope to look at large chunks of the sky at a time. The telescope will be equipped with two instruments, the Wide Field Instrument and the Coronagraph. The Wide Field Instrument will be the primary camera, capturing light through the visible light spectrum and the near-infrared. A coronagraph has a system for blocking very bright light sources, such as stars, so that nearby, fainter objects, such as the host star, can be seen more clearly to observe the planets surrounding it. One of the main things that the Roman Telescope will study is exoplanets. Planets outside our solar system. While we've discovered a staggering number of exoplanets -- more than 5,000 so far -- this is only a small fraction of all the planets in the Milky Way. One of Roman's goals is to make an estimate of how many exoplanets there really are in the Milky Way, and whether those systems that do have planets are distributed in some way. In this project, the Roman Telescope will be used in a survey called the Roman Galactic Exoplanet Survey (RGES) to obtain an overall picture of the entire galaxy's planetary system. The Roman Telescope has a special way of looking for exoplanets. Currently, many exoplanets detected by telescopes such as NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) are discovered using a method called the transit method. This is when a telescope is pointed at a star and watched as its brightness changes over time. If a planet passes in front of a star, between it and the telescope, the star's brightness drops by a small step. That's how researchers were able to identify exoplanets. The Roman telescope will also use the transit method, as well as directly image some exoplanets. But it mostly uses a technique called microlensing, which exploits the way gravity causes spacetime to curve. If a star passes in front of another star, the gravitational pull of the star in front distorts the light of the star behind, which can also be detected if there are planets around the foreground star. This method is great for finding planets of Earth mass or less, and possibly even detecting large moons.

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