Mar 312011

A NASA-Goddard concept (circa 2006) for a giant space telescope to be built in orbit using robots.  Where Hubble looks fairly solid, this looks relatively gossamer… which is perfectly appropriate given the environment. It would be built in the Earth-Moon L2 position, and then transported to the Sun-Earth L2 position. Robots would provide servicing at the Sun-Earth L2 position, but it would be brought back to Earth-Moon L2 for major servicing. Launch would require three heavy lifters like the Ares V, or a single launch of a greatly uprated vehicle (4 5-segment solid rocket boosters, a large upper stage and a total length of 415 feet). Mass of the scope is about 200 metric tons.

As far as capability, a scope like this – operating in the UV-through-visible-to-near-IR wavelengths – could resolve individual Sun-like stars as far out as the Coma cluster (321 million lightyearsaway), or spot exosolar planets out to 100 parsecs.

It was big.

The foil-based sun shield was big enough that photon pressure would produce a noticeable torque on the structure, so the scope was given a solar sail “tail” to counteract this.

 Posted by at 7:21 pm
  • Jordan

    I’d like to see this one built. It probably would be a great deal more expensive than the Hubble, but would be well worth it in the long run.

  • Jim

    I wonder where the industrial base exists to fab a mirror that big.


  • sferrin

    No need to “fab” a giant mirror. It’s undoubtedly intended to be a segmented mirror like pretty much every other modern large telescope.

  • sferrin

    This is the kind of ambitious project the US needs to be funding. Funding to completion that is. None of this “throw billions of dollars at it and then launch it into the ocean” crap.

  • Michel Van

    this study is ideal as “The successor” for James Webb Space Telescope 2014-2024
    I hope they would build it, but the politics…

  • tps
  • R2K

    Incredible! I would settle for the ATLAST telescope plans, but this would be even better. Direct images of planets to 100 LY or so.

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