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After Hubble

010-011_Estrategias_234-004The Hubble Space Telescope is slated to have a successor in 2018, when the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be launched, equipped with a 6.5-meter mirror. Hubble has not yet entered retirement, but scientists with the U.S. Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) are already concerned about building a new telescope to replace the JWST a few decades down the road. They released a report proposing the construction of a High-Definition Space Telescope (HDST) whose mirror would be nearly 12 meters across, five times wider than the Hubble’s. “It’s hard to convey just how spectacular it’s going to be,” the journal Nature was told by Julianne Dalcanton, astronomer at the University of Washington and coauthor of the proposal. The timing of the proposal’s release is not exactly favorable, given that U.S. government agencies are reevaluating astronomy research priorities for the coming decade. The report estimates that it would cost roughly $10 billion to build the HDST. AURA published a similar report in 1996, urging construction of a telescope to replace the Hubble. The document served to pressure the U.S. Congress and NASA into funding construction of the JWST.