NASA's 30-Year Goal to Answer Astrophysics' Greatest Question

“For the first time, we will identify continents and oceans—and perhaps the signatures of life—on distant worlds,” says NASA in its 30-year vision for astrophysics.

The past 30 years has seen a revolution in astronomy and our understanding of the Universe. That’s thanks in large part to a relatively small number of orbiting observatories that have changed the way we view our cosmos. [See Corliss Tech Review Group]

These observatories have contributed observations from every part of the electromagnetic spectrum, from NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory at the very high energy end to HALCA, a Japanese 8-metre radio telescope at the low energy end. Then there is the Hubble Space Telescope in the visible part of the spectrum, arguably the greatest telescope in history.

It’s fair to say that these observatories have had a profound effect not just on science, but on the history of humankind. Further Info

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