Roman Space Telescope AKA WFIRST Field of View 100 Times Hubble

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope or WFIRST) is a NASA infrared space observatory that will launch in 2025. The funding for this and all NASA projects is precarious. NASA’s ability to execute on large, multi-year science project has also been less than reliable.

Roman uses an existing 2.4-meter wide field-of-view primary mirror and uses two main scientific instruments. The Wide-Field Instrument is a 288-megapixel multi-band near-infrared camera, providing a sharpness of images comparable to that achieved by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) over a 0.28 square degree field of view, 100 times larger than that of the HST. The Coronagraphic Instrument is a high-contrast, small field-of-view camera and spectrometer covering visible and near-infrared wavelengths using novel starlight-suppression technology.

A study has found that the Roman Space Telescope will be ten times better at finding rogue planets. : The Astronomical Journal – Predictions of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Galactic Exoplanet Survey. II. Free-floating Planet Detection Rates
Samson A. Johnson, Matthew Penny, B. Scott Gaudi, Eamonn Kerins, Nicholas J. Rattenbury, Annie C. Robin, Sebastiano Calchi Novati, and Calen B. Henderson, 2020 August 21.

A survey using gravitational lensing should find ~250 FFPs (free floating planets aka rogue planets) with masses down to that of Mars. Roman will improve the upper limits on FFP populations by at least an order of magnitude compared to currently existing constraints.

SOURCES: NASA, Astronomical Journal
Written By Brian Wang,

15 thoughts on “Roman Space Telescope AKA WFIRST Field of View 100 Times Hubble”

  1. Certainly, the bigger (and cheaper) Starship will be a huge help to put these huge telescopes and related equipment in space. And all of them will totally eclipse any telescope even possible on Earth, making all the current whining about Starlink getting in the way of Earth based astronomy seem totally ridiculous and shortsighted to future generations.

  2. "I'm not sure what your criteria for declaring planets as 'persona non
    grata' and why artificial/ found space constructs are preferred" Please note that, in "The High Frontier", EARTH was the planet that ended up far behind Space as *the place*. Any planet not like the Earth would seem to be even further disadvantaged, unless it was some sort of Utopian paradise. You correctly list some of the reasons O'Neill brings up, but O'Neill's conclusion is highly counter intuitive, and so I strongly state it, as a balance. I perhaps cannot prove O'Neill to all, but to me, it is clear. I have extremely good background to judge, so may sound authoritarian, but I am glad to back it up, and consider the question of highest importance. As an example of planetary chauvinism, NOVA has a program about "Return to the Moon" about a year old. Excellent! Goes thru Clementine, LCROSS, O'Neill, the works. Then right at the end, the last thing you hear is someone looking forward to seeing population, ON THE MOON!!!! Arrrrrrrrrgh!!!!

  3. I'm not sure what your criteria for declaring planets as 'persona non grata' and why artificial/ found space constructs are preferred – (guessing e.g. high risk of human culture loss due to planetary calamities, inefficient and high resource use to maintain a society on a planet with all its variations, that planet eco-systems are rare and sacred so to be conserved, the life of universe travelling is so enriching that being planet-bound is like growing up in a small town and never travelling more than 20 miles,… etc). Some of these are moralizing, some are resource-sensitive ideologies, some are cultural biases — all valid, most incorporated into many mindsets.

  4. By talking about interstellar travel, the humans described are technological, so for us, "Planets are the WRONG place to be!" Failure to see this leads to all sorts of denial, as in: "One could argue that there is no right nor wrong place to be". Which is WRONG!

  5. One could argue that there is no right nor wrong place to be – just where the human-original entity, in whatever form at the time (assume in the future), chooses to inhabit during a certain period of its existence – whether bi-pedal-like throwback to ancestor times, augmented cyborg with only memories for which to identify as human-original, code within a greater memory device using the communal sensors to experience and 'live', or as the entity within whatever the surface, vessel, or other container considers as inhabitable. Even the Transhumanism aspect of the article precludes human-bi-pedal as not necessarily the ideal state but simply a current-state-transition to whatever suits future populations. Just a mote in God's eye as it were.

  6. "worldships can be seen as antithetical to interstellar colonization" because the planetarian fallacy is inherent in the site, they can't even see the obvious after stating it. Planets are the WRONG place to be!

  7. I, for one, can't believe the investments pouring in since exo-planet discoveries, sensor tech, and planet-'sensing' methods became so mainstream in the last 5 – 10yrs+. When is the last time so much funding came into astronomy science (not just satellites, orbital infrastructure, and NEO explor-/exploitation) — all valuable and possibly slightly enriched by exo-planet-mania. If funding is to be prioritized, getting a %-of-c craft close to a 'less than 20ly' suspect could draw resources from more traditional multi-wavelength 'observing' systems – go Slingshot, go.

  8. I agree, but would emphasize that having an *old* style 'scope avail does not mean it is the way to go in the future.

  9. People are drawing up plans for telescopes kilometres, and then hundreds of km, in size.

    Size will always be a problem.

  10. Uh, WFIRST is using a satellite bus and mirror donated by the NRO (largely assumed to be of KH-11/HST heritage due to size) that the NRO had previously had laying around in storage (ground spare or engineering model perhaps?) which they no longer needed. As such, it's not a folding design like JWST.

    You are right that eventually we want to launch mirror segments stacked and assemble on orbit, or eventually do CVD deposited thin film mirrors.

  11. "NASA’s ability to execute on large, multi-year science project has also been less than reliable." Now there is an understatement. The James Webb is going to be at least 14 years late, if it ever launches. And under development for 25 years! They need to just take delivery of this immediately. Let NASA itself fix anything still needed. Northrup Grumman needs criminally prosecuted for this delay holding this telescope hostage. 20 times over budget! It was supposed to cost $500 million. It is going to be $10 billion!

  12. We need to at least start thinking about doing the final assembly of these things in Space. Forcing everything to be folded and launchable while maintaining perfect optics adds cost and diminishes capabilities. And even then, we have to fix them in Space sometimes. And then, we can start building the stupid heavy parts in Space.

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