Since its launch in 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope has been delighting space enthusiasts with its breathtaking views of space objects, both near and far. But NASA has another space telescope in the works that will help answer even more of astronomy’s big questions. Scheduled for launch in 2027, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, known colloquially as the Roman, will study vast swaths of space to help cosmologists understand the universe at scale.
In astronomical research it is important to be able to see both in great detail and on a very large scale. Telescopes like Hubble and James Webb have exceptional sensitivity, allowing them to view extremely distant objects. Roman will be different and aim to get a wide view of the sky. The image below illustrates the differences between the telescopes, shows what Roman and Hubble can capture at once, and compares Hubble’s detailed but narrow view to Roman’s much broader view.
“The Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes are optimized for studying astronomical objects at depth and up close, so they look at the universe as if through small holes,” said Aaron Yung of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who recently led a prediction study the skills of Roman, in a statement. “To solve cosmic mysteries on the largest scale, we need a space telescope that can provide a much larger view. This is exactly what Roman is designed for.”
Roman is used for tasks such as conducting a survey to estimate how many exoplanets exist throughout the galaxy and studying the distribution of galaxies to help understand dark matter. A great advantage of Roman for this type of work, besides his wide vision, is that he can take pictures very quickly. According to NASA, Roman will be able to map the universe up to 1,000 times faster than Hubble.
“Roman will take about 100,000 pictures each year,” said Jeffrey Kruk, a research astrophysicist at Goddard. “Given Roman’s larger field of view, it would take longer than our lifetime to cover that much sky, even with powerful telescopes like Hubble or Webb.”