After years of preparatory studies, NASA is formally starting an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe—the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).
With a view 100 times bigger than that of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, WFIRST will aid researchers in their efforts to unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, and explore the evolution of the cosmos. It also will discover new worlds outside our solar system and advance the search for worlds that could be suitable for life.
NASA's Agency Program Management Council, which evaluates the agency's programs and projects on content, risk management and performance, made the decision to move forward with the mission on Wednesday.
The mission is led by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will manage the mission's 7.8-foot (2.4-meter) telescope and deliver the coronagraph, an instrument to help image and characterize planets around other stars. The Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech will share science center activities with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, under Goddard leadership.