Nasa has started work on a new space telescope that will provide views of the universe 100 times larger than what the Hubble Space Telescope can capture.
The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is expected to launch in 2024. It boasts the ability to capture images with the depth and quality of the Hubble telescope, but take in a much larger expanse of space.
The space agency is hoping the WFIRST will help researchers uncover some of the mystery surrounding dark energy and dark matter. It's also expected the telescope will discover new planets and galaxies.
"WFIRST has the potential to open our eyes to the wonders of the universe, much the same way Hubble has," said John Grunsfeld, an astronaut and associate administrator of Nasa's Science Mission Directorate.
"This mission uniquely combines the ability to discover and characterize planets beyond our own solar system with the sensitivity and optics to look wide and deep into the universe in a quest to unravel the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter."
The telescope will include a Wide Field Instrument that will help survey the universe, and a Coronagraph Instrument will help block glare from stars in order to better see the planets orbiting them. Nasa explains that this will help researchers better understand the physics of these atmospheres, and even discover signs of environments suitable for life.
It will not only be used to spot galaxies and planets far beyond what we can see now, but also track their location to better understand the expansion of the universe, and reveal further insight into the dark energy that could be causing it to grow.
You can see more details of the WFIRST in Nasa's video below.
Image credit: Nasa/GSFC/Conceptual Image Lab