Remote Sensing for Space Exploration in 50 Years
Steve Beckwith (STScI)
Several important problems in astronomy require wavefront capture and control over large distances to improve angular resolution and light sensitivity. Two of the most compelling are the search for signatures of life in extra-solar planetary systems and the study of black holes near their event horizons, but a host of other topics including the study of stars, the Solar System, and whole-Earth monitoring would be qualitatively changed by the use of very large telescopes and interferometers in space. These telescopes would expand our ability to carry out space exploration through remote sensing by an enormous factor and would be cost effective compared to in situ measurements.
They should be an important third prong of the Vision for Space Exploration alongside robot and human visitation of the Moon and other planets.