China Is Planning a Space Telescope More Powerful Than Hubble, But How Does It Compare to James Webb?

Friday, 11 March 2016 - 12:22PM
NASA
Astronomy
Friday, 11 March 2016 - 12:22PM
China Is Planning a Space Telescope More Powerful Than Hubble, But How Does It Compare to James Webb?
China just announced plans to build a space telescope that is even more powerful than NASA's Hubble, which will observe and image our universe in unprecedented detail. The as-yet-unnamed telescope will have the capability to dock with China's modular space station, the Tiangong.

Chinese officials announced these plans during parliamentary sessions, and claim that the new telescope will have 300 times the field of vision of Hubble. And since the telescope would be able to dock with a nearby space station, any repairs could be carried out by Chinese taikonauts right away, compared to the 3.5 years it takes NASA to fix problems with the Hubble Space Telescope.

This may very well be the most powerful space telescope in existence at this point, but how does it compare to the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's Hubble successor planned for launch in October 2018? Details are scarce, as China is famously secretive and is keeping details of their new tech close to the vest, so it's difficult to tell exactly how the two pieces of tech will compare to each other. But so far, it seems that China's telescope will outperform Hubble, but not necessarily the JWST. It will have a "2+meter" mirror (according to Popular Science), compared to Hubble's 2.4-meter mirror and James Webb's segmented 6.5-meter mirror. The JWST is set to be 100 times more powerful than any other telescope in the world right now, including Hubble, but the Chinese telescope is generally described as a more powerful version of Hubble.

But you never know, considering how little we know about the project, this could well be the most powerful telescope in existence. The announcement stated that the telescope could potentially image 40 percent of the universe in only ten years, and will give us the most in-depth search for dark matter, dark energy, and exoplanets to date. We don't know for sure yet, but the JWST should watch its back.
Science
Space
NASA
Astronomy

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