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  Stars & Galaxies Missions

Current Missions
* Current missions are listed from earliest launch to most recent.

Wide Field and Planetary Camera Wide Field and Planetary Camera
Launch Date: December 2, 1993
   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.
 
Keck Interferometer Keck Interferometer
First light: March 2001
   The Keck Interferometer links two 10-meter (33-foot) telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The linked telescopes form the world's most powerful optical telescope system. They will be used to search for planets around nearby stars, as part of NASA's quest to find habitable, Earth-like planets.
Telescope home page
 
Galaxy Evolution Explorer Galaxy Evolution Explorer
Launch: April 28, 2003
   This mission uses ultraviolet wavelengths to measure the history of star formation 80 percent of the way back to the Big Bang.
 
Space Infrared Telescope Facility Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Launch: August 25, 2003, Eastern time (August 24, Pacific time)
   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.
 


Future Missions
* Mission list begins with the earliest future launch.

artist's concept of Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer
Scheduled Launch: 2004
   Two 8-meter (26-foot) telescopes on Mount Graham, Arizona will be connected. The system will identify faint dust clouds around other stars that might hinder planet-finding missions. The mission is managed by the University of Arizona, Tucson in conjunction with multipe international partners.
Mission home page
 
artist's concept of Herschel Herschel Space Observatory
Scheduled Launch: 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.
Mission home page
 
artist's concept of Kepler Kepler Mission
Scheduled Launch: 2007
   The Kepler Mission will search for Earth-like planets with the "transit" method. A one-meter diameter (39-inch) telescope equipped with the equivalent of 42 high quality digital cameras will continuously monitor the brightness of 100,000 stars, looking for planets that cross the lines-of-sight between Kepler and their parent stars.
Mission home page
 
Space Interferometry Mission Space Interferometry Mission
Planned Launch: 2009
   This mission is an orbiting interferometer, which will link multiple telescopes to function in unison as a much larger "virtual telescope." The main goal is to detect planets of varying sizes-from huge planets the size of Jupiter down to planets a few times as massive as Earth.
 
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Proposed Missions
* Mission list begins with the earliest proposed launch.

Laser Interferometry Space Antenna Laser Interferometer Space Antenna
Proposed Launch: 2010
   If selected, this mission will observe gravitational waves from binary stars both inside and beyond our galaxy, including gravitational waves generated in the vicinity of the very massive black holes found in the centers of many galaxies. The mission will consist of three spacecraft forming an equilateral triangle while traveling in space.
 
Starlight Terrestrial Planet Finder
Proposed Launch: 2014
   This mission will use multiple telescopes working together to take family portraits of stars and their orbiting planets and determine which planets may have the right chemistry to sustain life.
 
Starlight Single Aperture Far-Infrared Observatory
Proposed Launch: 2015
   The Single Aperture Far-Infrared Observatory is a large cryogenic space-based telescope optimized for observations in the mid-infrared to submillimeter wavelength range.
Mission home page
 
Advanced Radio Interferometry between Space and Earth Advanced Radio Interferometry between Space and Earth
Proposed Launch: to be determined
   If selected, this mission will further the study of supermassive black holes by obtaining images with resolutions 3,000 times greater than NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The mission will consist of a radio telescope in space operating with many radio telescopes on the ground.
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Past Missions
* Mission list begins with the earliest launch.

Infrared Astronomical Satellite Infrared Astronomical Satellite
Launch Date: January 25, 1983
   This satellite put an infrared telescope in orbit above the interference of Earth's atmosphere. The mission had many unexpected discoveries, including the discovery of solid material around the stars Vega and Fomalhaut.
 
Space Very Long Baseline Interferometry (Space VLBI) Space Very Long Baseline Interferometry (Space VLBI)
Launch Date: February 1997
   Japan's Very Long Baseline Interferometry Space Observatory Program spacecraft is an international mission to study the distant universe, including black holes. The spacecraft's onboard radio astronomy antenna observes with ground radio antennas, including NASA's Deep Space Network, to create the equivalent of a radio-observing telescope bigger than Earth.
 
Wide-field Infrared Explorer Wide-field Infrared Explorer
Launch Date: March 4, 1999
   The Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WIRE) was a small satellite carrying a cryogenically cooled infrared telescope designed to study starburst galaxies -- vast clouds of molecular gas cradling the sites of newborn stars.
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