With the James Web Space Telescope nearing completion, NASA is already in the study phase of developing yet another space telescope called the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST).
This is exciting news because scientists are itching to discover an alien planet whose inhabitants will help us avert global warming catastrophe. Of course, there’s always the chance of being conquered and forced to join a highly advanced intergalactic cult. Yikes!
In all seriousness, ATLAST represents NASA’s continued commitment to innovative space exploration, which is already yielding some amazing results, with even more to come.
Some of the advances to be included in the ATLAST are an increased focus on limiting the sun’s disruptive effects, an adjustable mirror that will also provide added stabilization, and perhaps most importantly, a modular design that will make fixing faulty components an easier experience than on previous space telescopes.
According to Julie Crooke, a lead member studying and helping design the ATLAST at the Goddard Space Flight Center, “One of the pertinent attributes about ATLAST is that it’s being designed to be modular and serviceable, following the Hubble Space Telescope model. Serviceability has been one of the great paradigms in mission architecture that separates the Hubble Space Telescope from all of the other space missions to date.”
Although the final look of the ATLAST is far from complete, here are two additional possibilities:
( 8-meter monolithic mirror telescope, credit: MSFC Advanced Concepts Office)
(16-meter segmented mirror telescope, credit: Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems & NASA/STScI)