NASA's New Telescope May Reveal the Secrets of Dark Energy and Exoplanets

First Posted: Feb 22, 2016 07:01 AM EST

NASA has announced that it's creating a new telescope that could reveal some new information about the universe. After years of preparatory studies, NASA is formally starting on the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

The new telescope has a view 100 times bigger than that of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. With the wider view, the telescope could potentially help scientists unlock the secrets of dark energy and dark matter while exploring the evolution of the universe. It will also be able to spot new worlds outside of our solar system as researchers continue the search for life on other planets.

"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 in Washington, in a news release. "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 will be NASA's next major astrophysics observatory, following the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. WFIRST 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.

"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. "This mission will survey the universe to find the most interesting objects out there.

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