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April 1, 2002 Press Contact: Steve Koppes
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Scientists to discuss future of astronomy from space at University of Chicago

Approximately 150 astronomers from around the country will gather at the University of Chicago for a workshop April 2 to 5 to ponder what sort of orbiting telescope should probe the universe at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths once the Hubble Space Telescope’s two-decade mission ends in 2010.

The workshop, titled "Hubble’s Science Legacy: Future Optical-Ultraviolet Astronomy from Space," is sponsored by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the European Space Agency.

"For more than a decade the Hubble Telescope has been one of the workhorses of astronomy," said Michael Turner, a workshop organizer and the Bruce and Diana Rauner Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. "It has more than exceeded the high expectations that everyone had for it, and it made discoveries from our own backyard to the edge of the universe."

Astronomers will meet at the workshop to devise a concept for a new space telescope that will complement the Next Generation Space Telescope and the ground-based optical capabilities that already exist.

"There have been other workshops over the course of the last 15 years concerning the scientific case for the next step. The Next Generation Space Telescope emerged from such a planning process," said Richard Kron, a conference organizer and Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.

The Next Generation Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2009, will scan the skies at infrared wavelengths. The Hubble Telescope studies the universe at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.

Hubble’s successor could go in any of several directions, Turner said. One possibility is a wide-vision version of the Hubble Telescope. Hubble itself peers deeply into only a small part of the sky.

"Maybe you want to emphasize the ultraviolet. Ultraviolet is something you just can’t do from Earth because of the atmosphere," Turner said. "The key thing is to find a concept that uses the advantages of space ‹clarity of vision, good weather and 24-hour viewing‹and synergies with the optical capabilities that will exist on the ground."

Workshop participants will face some challenging issues, Kron said.

"You’ve got to think about the synergy between what this thing could do and what all the many other experiments could do," Kron said. "It’s a tough problem, looking 20 years ahead, given that things are so rapidly changing."

"Hubble’s Science Legacy" is the second forward-looking science workshop that the University of Chicago has hosted this year. In January, approximately 200 particle physicists attended a linear collider workshop in Chicago to discuss the possible construction of a linear collider a decade from now. If built, the linear collider would succeed the Large Hadron Collider, which is under construction at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.

For more information about the space telescope workshop, see
Last modified at 02:13 PM CST on Monday, April 01, 2002.

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