by Theodore R. Frimet
Four great tunes to listen to. However only one speaker, and of course, only one channel. Unless of course you are a mutant like me! NASA isn’t going to listen. Post Hubble and James Webb, they are of course looking!
Do we glare at the first supermassive black holes with LYNX or go gaga at awesome first galaxies with LUVOIR? Perhaps better to be pedestrian and watch for Earth-like exoplanets with HABEX or stare down the cold gas and dust of planet forming disks with ORIGINS?
A great read is author Daniel Clery’s article “Starry Eyes” in Science, December 14, 2018, Vol 362, Issue 6420, pps 1230-1235.
Herein we discover the LYNX X-ray observatory goes the distance to find sources that are deeper and fainter. Nested millimeter thick mirrors allow x-rays to be captured as glancing reflections. We know the successes of Chandra and her European mission equivalents. So I crave for the hidden information of supermassive black holes that LYNX promises to unfold.
I am a sucker for a spiral galaxy. Who isn’t? LUVOIR, with its movable mirrors, will be packed into the payload of NASA’s heavy lift rocket, known as Space Launch System two. I expect great discoveries as she unfolds her huge 15 meter mirror (Hubble is 2 meters) and fires all mirror segments poised at its secondary and onwards to its optics system. A sunshield to accompany the unfolding origami will keep old Sol at bay, cheaply providing a cool roost for on-board sensors.
Where to find life exquisite than none other than HabEx? It is appealing to both the public and Congressional purse to find life on Earth like planets. And HabEx fits the bill. Equipped with a forward scarf and sun shade, it can focus most clearly on objects that are one ten billionth as bright.
Simple molecules, gas and dust are easy targets for ORIGINS to manage. It is sensitive and capable of detecting aromatic hydrocarbons. Equipped with star shield and cryo-coolers, ORIGINS will stare down feebly glowing objects in the far infrared. Her sweet spot is water. By tracking H2O we could land ourselves onto habitable worlds.
Which mission will win the favor of NASA? Well, I for one, have already shown you my hand. I have no poker face. Show me a First Galaxy and I’ll show you a happy Amateur Astronomer!