- Awareness in space.
Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: WFIRST- objectives, significance and operation, what is gravitational microlensing?
Context: WFIRST telescope will give humans the largest, deepest, clearest picture of the universe since the Hubble Space Telescope could find as many as 1,400 new planets outside Earth’s solar system. The new telescope paves the way for a more accurate, more focused search for extraterrestrial life, with about 100 of the not-yet-discovered planets having the same or lower mass as Earth.
WFIRST, the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope, is a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics.
WFIRST will have two instruments, the Wide Field Instrument, and the Coronagraph Instrument.
The Wide Field Instrument will have a field of view that is 100 times greater than the Hubble infrared instrument, capturing more of the sky with less observing time. As the primary instrument, the Wide Field Instrument will measure light from a billion galaxies over the course of the mission lifetime.
WFIRST will use gravitational microlensing in its search for new planets. Gravitational microlensing is a technique that relies on the gravity of stars and planets to bend and magnify the light coming from stars that pass behind them from the telescope’s viewpoint.
With the 2.4 meter telescope, single WFIRST images will uncover millions of galaxies. For example, where Hubble has found only a few galaxies within 500 million years of the Big Bang, WFIRST will find hundreds of these rare objects. In addition, the WFIRST coronagraph instrument will directly image ice and gas giant exoplanets.