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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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NASA Narrows Possible Uses for Former Spy Telescopes
6 June 2013 5:25 pm
NASA has decided that the best use of two space telescopes gifted to it by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)—an intelligence gathering agency—would be to utilize them in a mission to study dark energy and extrasolar planets. Provided the agency can find the money to fund that mission: the proposed Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).
NASA began mulling what to do with the two 2.4-meter telescopes nearly 2 years ago, after NRO handed the instruments over to the space agency. An initial study by a group of astrophysicists determined that one of the telescopes could be used as a centerpiece of the $1.6 billion WFIRST project, which received top billing among space projects recommended for funding in the most recent U.S. astronomy decadal survey.
Earlier this year, however, NASA hosted a meeting where astronomers and planetary scientists were invited to present other ideas for using the telescopes. There was no dearth of concepts. One idea was to put one of the telescopes in orbit around Mars. Another was to dedicate the instrument to gamma ray astronomy.
After studying all these options, NASA has decided that the only one it wishes to pursue at this time is using the telescope for WFIRST, Paul Hertz, the head of NASA's astrophysics division, announced on Tuesday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Indianapolis. However, whether WFIRST will happen at all or not remains an open question, he said—and it won't get decided until at least 2016.