“I wondered had I really oversold the Hubble. I have to admit that, since, I have been convinced that I didn’t,” said Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s first Chief Astronomer. Today, NASA announced that it is naming its next-generation ‘dark-energy’ space telescope, Hubble’s successor, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), in her honor.
There is an as-yet-unseen population of Jupiter-like planets orbiting nearby Sun-like stars, awaiting discovery by future missions like NASA’s WFIRST space telescope, according to new models of gas giant planet formation by observational astronomer Alan Boss, supported by a new Science paper on the surprising discovery of a gas giant planet orbiting a low-mass star. Boss’s work focuses on the Astrometric Planet Search project, which has been underway for the last decade at Carnegie Institute’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile..
“Although it’s a small fraction of the sky, it’s huge compared to what other space telescopes can do,” said astronomer Matthew Penny, at The Ohio State University. “It’s WFIRST’s unique combination—both a wide field of view and a high resolution—that make it so powerful for microlensing planet searches. Previous space telescopes, including Hubble and James Webb, have had to choose one or the other.”