A group of esteemed astronomers have conceptualised a grand satellite telescope as the replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope, as they hope that the search for extra-terrestrial life will continue in HD.
The US astronomers have put forward the High-Definition Space Telescope (HDST) as the successor to Hubble which is set to go out of service within the next six years. It would have a 12m-wide mirror – almost five times that of the current telescope – allowing star gazers a sharper and clearer view of the universe.
It would also be able to "directly probe" the atmosphere of planets outside of our solar system which would take astronomers closer to answering whether we are alone or not, according to the report released by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).
However, one stumbling block could be the price tag, with a figure of $10bn (£6.5bn) being bandied about. Authorities could baulk at the cost, especially as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be in orbit by the time that Hubble falters.
Report co-chair Julianne Dalcanton, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle, says that it'll be worth the cost though: "This is a mission that will never not look compelling. It's hard to convey just how spectacular it's going to be."
Marc Postman, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and a co-author of the AURA report, added: "We think the HDST will be a revolutionary telescope in many ways. Now the challenge will be to get all those communities to agree that's indeed what they want."
The astronomers state that the HDST will be able to work in conjunction with the JWST, and its successor the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, as they will operate on different wavelengths. The latter two would use infrared while the HDST would use ultraviolet wavelengths to provide the highest of quality images.