A Rogue Earth-Mass Planet Has Been Discovered Freely Floating in the Milky Way Without a Star

An artist's impression of a rogue planet. Image Credit: By Interpott.nrw - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83123717

If a solar system is a family, then some planets leave home early. Whether they want to or not. Once they’ve left the gravitational embrace of their family, they’re pretty much destined to drift through interstellar space forever, unbound to any star.

Astronomers like to call these drifters “rogue planets,” and they’re getting better at finding them. A team of astronomers have found one of these drifting rogues that’s about the same mass as Mars or Earth.

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Nancy Roman Telescope’s Primary 2.4-Meter Mirror is Ready

Artist's impression of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, named after NASA’s first Chief of Astronomy. When launched later this decade, the telescope should make a significant contribution to the study of FFPs. Credits: NASA

The Nancy Roman Telescope has reached another milestone in its development. NASA has announced that the space telescope’s primary mirror is now complete. The 2.4 meter (7.9 ft) mirror took less time to develop than other mirrors because it wasn’t built from scratch. It’s a re-shaped and re-surfaced mirror that came from the National Reconnaissance Office.

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Roman Space Telescope and SOFIA Get Their Funding Restored… Again

Artist's impression of the Nancy Grace Roman space telescope (formerly WFIRST). It could open a window on the early Universe by observing light from the first stars. Credit: NASA/GSFC
Artist's impression of the Nancy Grace Roman space telescope (formerly WFIRST). Credit: NASA/GSFC

In May of 2020, NASA made the decision to give the next-generation Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST) a proper name. Henceforth, it would be known as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (or Roman Space Telescope) in honor of NASA’s first Chief Astronomer and a woman’s who tireless work in the field of STEMs research led to the creation of the Hubble Space Telescope – hence her nickname, the “mother of Hubble”).

However, in recent months, the budget environment has not been too favorable to the Roman Space Telescope (RST), as well as education-related programs. But thanks to a recent bill considered by the House Appropriations Commitee, funding has been restored to five NASA science missions and projects – including the RST – that the administration’s budget proposal sought to cancel for the coming year.

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WFIRST Will be Named After Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s First Chief Astronomer

Artist's impression of the Nancy Grace Roman space telescope (formerly WFIRST). It could open a window on the early Universe by observing light from the first stars. Credit: NASA/GSFC
Artist's impression of the Nancy Grace Roman space telescope (formerly WFIRST). Credit: NASA/GSFC

In the mid-2020s, NASA’s next-generation Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will take to space. With unprecedented resolution and advanced instruments, it will build on the foundation established by the venerable Hubble Space Telescope – which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year! In anticipation of all it will accomplish, NASA decided that the WFIRST needs a proper name, one that honors its connection to Hubble.

This week, NASA announced that henceforth, the WFIRST mission will be known as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (or Roman Space Telescope for short) in honor of Dr. Nancy Grace Roman (who passed away in 2018). In addition to being NASA’s first Chief Astronomer, she was also a tireless educator and advocate for women in STEMs whose work paved the way for space telescopes – leading to her nickname “the mother of Hubble.”

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