NASA just named its next “great observatory” after Dr. Nancy Grace Roman, the space agency’s first chief astronomer and woman executive.
Roman earned the nickname “mother of Hubble” for pioneering the concepts behind the Hubble Space Telescope — the first of NASA’s great space-based observatories.
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope was formerly called WFIRST, which stands for Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope.
The new telescope will have 100 times the view of Hubble. It’s expected to photograph thousands of new exoplanets and probe the nature of dark energy.
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NASA just named its next space observatory for the woman who pioneered the very idea of launching telescopes into orbit.
Dr. Nancy Grace Roman spent 21 years at NASA developing and launching space-based observatories that studied the sun, deep space, and Earth’s atmosphere. She most famously worked to develop the concepts behind the Hubble Space Telescope, which just spent its 30th year in orbit.
Roman earned the nickname “mother of Hubble” for her role in pushing for that telescope. When it launched in 1990, Hubble became the first of NASA’s “great observatories,” which are designed to push the limits of human knowledge about the cosmos.
Roman also served as NASA’s first Chief of Astronomy, making her the first woman to hold an executive position at the agency. She died in 2018.
Roman “had huge influence in all of astronomy and space,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, said in a NASA video announcing the name.
Zurbuchen said Roman’s work led space astronomy to where it is today.
“For that reason: that vision, that foresight … that leadership on the inside of the agency,” Zurbuchen said, “that really makes her, I think, the only name that is appropriate for this large space telescope that we’re building now.”
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will hunt for new planets and dark energy
NASA plans to launch the new telescope, which was originally called the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST), into Earth’s orbit in the mid-2020s.
Over its five-year lifetime, the Roman Space Telescope will measure light from a billion galaxies and survey the inner Milky Way with the hope of finding about 2,600 new planets and photographing them.
The new observatory will have a field of view 100 times greater than Hubble’s. Each of its photos will be equivalent to about 100 Hubble images’ worth of pixels.
That breadth will help scientists test Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and search for signs of “dark energy,” a mysterious force that makes up 68% of the universe and drives its expansion.
“[Roman] is somebody I’ve really admired. It makes me excited and proud to be associated with a mission that’s named after her. This is something I’m going to enjoy day after day after as the mission continues,” Julie McInery, the deputy project scientist for the telescope, said in a statement.
‘I was told, from the beginning, that women could not be scientists’
Roman was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 16, 1925. As a child, …read more
Source:: Business Insider