Space scientists have unveiled a bold proposal for a giant new space-based telescope that would be far more powerful than today's observatories. Called the High Definition Space Telescope (HDST), the instrument is essentially a supersized Hubble Space Telescope, with 100 times its ability to detect faint starlight.
HDST also could examine dozens of Earth-like exoplanets that are too tiny for Hubble and its immediate successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, to see. HDST would scour their atmospheres for signs of alien life, perhaps finally answering whether or not we are alone in the cosmos.
The vision for the HDST was described in a July report spearheaded by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a consortium of global institutions that operate astronomical observatories.
On October 6 The Kavli Foundation hosted a Google+ Hangout to learn more about HDST's promise.
Two acclaimed scientists answered questions in the video above about how HDST will trace cosmic evolution, from the primeval rise of chemical elements necessary for life to the potential for alien life right in our cosmic backyard, plus how to build such a powerful instrument.
JULIANNE DALCANTON – is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington and co-chair of the HDST study. Her research focuses on the origin and evolution of galaxies.
MARC POSTMAN – is an Astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and served on the committee for the HDST report. His research interests include galaxy cluster and large-scale cosmic structure evolution and formation, along with large space telescope design and implementation.
ADAM HADHAZY (moderator) – is a freelance science writer who chiefly covers astrophysics and astrobiology.