Space

Robots to build very large modular telescope in space for furthest reaches of universe

Robots to build very large modular telescope in space for furthest reaches of universe

Iconic Hubble Space Telescope has enabled scientists to peek into the deepest corners of the universe and without such large telescopes, it would not have been possible. Now, scientists want to deploy even bigger telescopes which will snap clearer and sharper image of universe. Larger lens will also mean that astronomers will be able to scan furthest reaches of space.

However, carrying such huge telescope to space is a very daunting task as the lens may get affected in the journey. To overcome this problem, a team of scientists at the California Institute of Technology and Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) has proposed a new telescope-constructing robot capable of assembling a space telescope while orbiting around Earth.

The modular technology is next step of constructing and assembling the telescopes in future. Named as robotically assembled modular space telescope (RAMST), the robot can complete tasks without facing any astronaut fatigue.

Scientists explained that once mirror of HST got misaligned and it started sending fuzzy images back to Earth. A group of seven astronauts was sent to space to fix the mirror and make the telescope operable again. In case of RAMST, a robot would have completed the task in lesser time and at cheaper cost. Also, it would eliminate the risk of human life.

“Our goal is to address the principal technical challenges associated with such an architecture, so that future concept studies addressing a particular science driver can consider robotically assembled telescopes in their trade space,” said study authors.

The new modular telescope would have a large lens made by joining several small lenses. A robot would assemble the lens and the telescope in the space itself and robot would fix any problem if it occurs.

The US space agency NASA is about to launch the successor of the HST, the James Webb Telescope which has thrice larger lens when compared to HST.

“The capability to assemble a modular space telescope has other potential applications,’ said Harley Thronson, scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “A robotic system of assembly, upgrade, repair, and resupply offers the possibility of very long useful lifetimes of space telescopes of all kinds.”

The study appeared in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems (JATIS).

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