WFIRST Will See the Big Picture of the Universe

WFIRST Will See the Big Picture of the Universe


♪Music♪ Narrator: The universe. For all we have learned about it, we have still only scratched the surface. Everything that we can see around us makes up less than 5 percent of what’s actually out there. All the rest is called dark matter and dark energy. What are they? We still don’t know, even thought they determine the fate of the universe. We have confirmed over 3,000 planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, but most of these extrasolar planets are huge, and very close to their host star. How common are planetary arrangements like our own? And how many planets in our galaxy have the potential to harbor life? These fundamental questions are part of what drives NASA science, and they spur the development of new space observatories. WFIRST, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, is one of these. WFIRST is built on an existing telescope that is very similar to Hubble, but with the added benefit of 25 years of technological development. Each of the Wide Field Instrument’s images will have the depth and clarity of Hubble, but cover a sky area 100 times larger. That’s thanks to an arrangement of 18 sensors in the camera to Hubble’s one. Viewing the sky in infrared wavelengths allows astronomers to see relatively cool objects, like interstellar gas, dust and exoplanets, as well as stars. WFIRST will lead the push to understand dark energy, a mysterious pressure that is making the universe expand ever faster. Dark energy makes up 68 percent of the cosmos, and its properties– whatever they are–determine the fate of the universe. But no one knows what it is, or exactly how it behaves. Another mysterious component of the universe WFIRST will study is dark matter. Dark matter accounts for 27 percent of the cosmos–5 times as much as the matter we can see–but has remained invisible to us. We can detect it by seeing how its gravity warps light from distant galaxies, a process called gravitational lensing. WFIRST’s powerful 2.4 meter telescope will also help us in the search for extrasolar planets, or exoplanets. Using the same gravitational lensing principles, WFIRST will watch for so-called ‘gravitational microlensing events’, a unique light signature caused when a planet and its host star pass in front of a background star. This technique extends planet-detection capabilities to smaller and more distant worlds than other methods, so it can catch ones that have eluded us before. WFIRST’s enormous field of view will allow scientists to watch huge portions of the Milky Way for these microlensing events. As a result, they will be able to complete the census of exoplanets begun by Kepler. To deepen its study of exoplanets, WFIRST will also be outfitted a beyond state-of-the-art coronagraph. The coronagraph works by masking star light to reveal the faint light reflected by any potential planets. WFIRST’s coronagraph will directly image and analyze Neptune-size planets in orbits slightly greater than Earth’s. Existing coronagraphs can only image larger planets that are much more distant form their host stars, so this new capability represents a dramatic improvement. In order to make all these measurements, WFIRST will move to nearly 1 million miles from Earth and orbit a special area of space called a Lagrange point. This particular point, called Earth-Sun L2, is one of several locations where the combined gravitational effects of the Sun and Earth, create a zone of stability where a spacecraft can pace Earth as it orbits. WFIRST will be a way to answer many of the biggest questions about the universe. Questions like “how does the universe work?” and “are we alone?” Its wide-field view and coronagraph will compliment missions like the James Webb Space Telescope and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS. WFIRST will be an indispensable part of space science during the next decade and beyond. [Beeping] [Beeping] [Beeping]

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  1. How this possible because Hubble have 1500 MP and werist have only 300 MP ,so how the photo of this telescope is equal to 100 image of hubble

  2. The part about gravitational microlensing detection of exoplanets made me genuinely go "woah, we can DO that?" Apparently, though, the first exoplanet was detected in that way back in 2003.

  3. I think it's fantastic that it will study both Dark Matter & Dark Energy since neither one actually exists. Sending out satellite telescopes to go look for traces & signs of Big Foot + the Spagettification Monster. Epic!

  4. only 500 years ago people were left to die in prison for saying Earth orbited the Sun. We have a 1000 years of catching up to do.

  5. I can't wait to see the path Trump takes NASA, he will help get NASA and America back to human space flight. Once again America will inspire the next generation and we won't rely on the Russians to get our own astronauts to the ISS. Trump will get us back to the moon and eventually Mars and beyond. MakeSpaceGreatAgain!!!

  6. Downvote for peddling the totally unsupported big bang theory. Seriously nasa, stop trying to beat god, it's unscientific.

  7. Presentation begins 95% of the universe is not observable. Perhaps NASA Goddard does not want to find anything, like electricity in space. If they found it, the fire hose of taxpayer funding would end. That is, unfortunately, not how government programs "work." The tech is great. However, NASA will never find what they are not looking for. What a waste of resources and careers.

  8. Like installing a huge plate glass corner window,
    where only a tiny one existed before.
    The view, wide and spectacular.
    But rocks from the abyss are always possible.
    Windows don't usually move out of the way.
    Better anticipate zinging space rocks.

  9. Thanks for.doing an amazing job explaining to us what the universe is, is beautiful and amazing. Saludos desde Culiacán Sinaloa México.

  10. Launch it now before it gets binned. I'm really excited about this telescope, but fear it won't see first light due to some idiotic budget cut.

  11. So they got the technological equipment to look at stars and other planets but NASA can’t even provide a clean clear picture of the moon zoomed all the way down just like they do with pictures of earth from the satellites! All this is a bunch of fairy tales, only weak minded people fall for this type of info

  12. Man imagine if they found a massive alien super structure orbiting around a star.
    That would change our entire view of the universe and our place in it.
    But I'm sure NASA would hide the news from the people and only a select few in govt would be allowed to access that information. That raises the question – why should the public bother funding something if important findings are kept under wraps.

  13. I'm curious if Nasa is making 2 of anything they put up in space? In case one of them gets hit by an asteroid they can launch the other one right away.

  14. "Is anyone there? Search mode activated! Come closer. Are you still there? Could you come over here? There you are. Target lost. Searching! What are you doing? I don't hate you. Put me down. Self test error. Goodbye."

  15. Will this answer most of the mysteries of the universe?
    I hope that it will NOT answer the dark matter and dark energy, and the rest of the universe, I just want them to see some direct images of exoplanets and that's it. (I love science. But i don't want to answer all the mysteries and unknown.)

  16. I like to see the WFIRST soon i'm more interested as it will use for the first time a state of the art Coronagraph to see distant Jupiter, MIni-Neptune or Super-Earth size exoplanets at about almost 2 AU from its host star . The WFIRST coronagraph will enable scientists to see these exoplanets directly ( direct image ) for the first time and the images will be in their true colors using some of the other color filters in the CGI. The CGI is baselined as a technology demonstration instrument on WFIRST; it does not drive mission requirements beyond those needed for the Wide Field Instrument. However, with one year of allocated observing time out of a six-year mission, NASA expects that it will achieve breakthrough science, and will demonstrate key technology elements for follow-up missions, like the HAB-EX or the LUVOIR telescopes , the next of which could be aimed at finding habitable Earth-like planets around nearby stars.

  17. i am a great fan of NASA and what they do.. but i get a little sceptical when i see them developing the technology to find and research more about universe.. as i believe they know something is definitely out there.. we have a constant huge investments made and for a reason to find another intelligence life… but what after that// communication and understanding ????

  18. Everything is going around earth. Who has any other perspective? It's relative. Frame of reference is relevent. Ask Einstein and his theories.

  19. Why the short lifetime of 6 yrs.? This is an expensive satellite. Could the telescope go into a stable orbit at the end of the mission to wait for later refueling? Would ion or plasma thrusters cause problems? The external occulter would make this a valuable mission if it could serve a WFIRST successor, too, or if the mission could be extended by refueling.

  20. thats so cool this is a question:can you guys make a telescope after you launch the telescope but the one I dont care what name
    i want it to get close hubblt on to of the scope and do the thing again with WFIRST

  21. oh but i mean the telescope on the bottom and them they will attach then they go to WFIRST it,will,be,ASWOME

  22. Would it be possible to link these telescopes up as we have with earth based telescope networks, to achieve a higher resolution or field of depth on such objects as black holes, exoplanets, or edge of the visible universe exposures? If there were a docking framework that could be constructed in space, a dozen James Webb telescopes could be parked into position on that framework.

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