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Before 1995, astronomers were only certain of the nine planets in our solar system. Since then, they have found dozens of planets orbiting other stars.
Galaxies and More

Two Micron All Sky Survey
Red nebular star formation with K3-50 region
Using high-tech instruments in space and on the ground, astronomers gaze at the stars and galaxies looking for clues to their formation. Because light is traveling great distances, we are seeing stars and gas clouds as they existed millions or billions of years ago and, in some cases, even before Earth formed.

Astronomers are taking advantage of the most advanced technologies to create more powerful telescopes and help us learn more about the events that have occurred throughout the history of our universe.

Some telescopes look at the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, which enables scientists to observe objects not normally visible to the human eye, while others use multiple telescopes working in unison, a technique called interferometry. With these various telescopes and missions, astronomers are assembling a celestial photo album to help us retrace our cosmic roots.

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Thin line

The following list includes missions that study the universe and its stars and galaxies.
(Unless otherwise noted, the missions are managed by JPL.)

Laser Interferometry Space Antenna (LISA): Gravitational Waves Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA): Gravitational Waves
   Our basic theory of how the universe evolved predicts gravitational waves. There is strong indirect evidence that they exist. LISA's main goal is to find and observe gravitational waves emitted by massive black holes at the centers of nearby galaxies. This mission is being developed jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency with participation by both JPL and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Galaxy Evolution Explorer Galaxy Evolution Explorer
   This mission uses ultraviolet wavelengths to measure the history of star formation 80 percent of the way back to the Big Bang.

Two-Micron All Sky Survey Two Micron All-Sky Survey
   Twin telescopes in Arizona and Chile have mapped the entire sky in infrared, producing a wealth of beautiful images and scientific data. The University of Massachusetts (url tba) and Caltech/JPL collaborate on this project.

Space Very Long Baseline Interferometry (Space VLBI) Space Very Long Baseline Interferometry (Space VLBI)
   This is the site for a Japanese mission that used interferometry to study black holes. NASA and JPL are international partners in this mission.

Herschel Space Observatory Herschel Space Observatory
   With a planned launch in 2007, the Herschel Space Observatory is a space-based telescope that will study the universe by the light of the far-infrared and submillimeter portions of the spectrum.

Advanced Radio Interferometry between Earth and Space (ARISE) Advanced Radio Interferometry between Earth and Space (ARISE)
   This future mission will combine the power of Earth-orbiting telescopes and ground-based telescopes to study black holes.

SIRTF Website Space Infrared Telescope Facility
   This mission is an infrared telescope that will study the early universe, old galaxies and forming stars, and will detect dust discs around stars where planets may be forming.

Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2)
   The Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 is the main instrument aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope used for taking general pictures of stars, galaxies and planets. The instrument actually consists for four internal camera systems: three wide-field cameras, and one narrow-field camera.

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