Skip to main content

Ambitious Science

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope was the top large space priority in the report of the Astro2010 Decadal Survey "New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics." NASA will implement the Roman Space Telescope program on a 2.4-meter AFTA (Astrophysics-Focused Telescope Assets) telescope, donated to NASA by another agency.

The design reference mission in the final report of the WFIRST-AFTA Science Definition Team describes an ambitious science program centered on several key science themes. This includes a multi-pronged approach to measuring dark energy, the discovery and census of planets down to sub-Earth masses via their microlensing signatures, and the imaging and spectroscopy of planets via coronagraphy. Moreover, the Roman instruments will enable many exciting new discoveries through a combination of general astrophysics observations and archival studies of Roman data, including data from the core community Roman surveys. The Roman Project is currently planning for observatory launch in late 2026.

A Wider Look

Hubble mosaic with red outline to highlight what Roman's field of view in comparison to Hubble which is shown in a blue outline
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, a 2.4 meter telescope, will be able to capture an area over 200 times larger than Hubble's infrared view.

This image shows an incredible, high-resolution view of our nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, as a collection of millions of individual stars. The image was obtained through one of the largest Hubble programs ever carried out, the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury program (PI: J. Dalcanton). To fully observe the dense central region and spiral disk of the galaxy, astronomers took 400 distinct pointings with Hubble (blue square) and connected them to build a wide-field mosaic. The image is now the gold standard for understanding the detailed makeup of galaxies like the Milky Way.

The red outline shows the enormous footprint of Roman superimposed on this Hubble mosaic. It would take just two Roman pointings to cover the entire region explored by Hubble in this mosaic at the same depth and image clarity. Roman's unique ability to do wide-field surveys at space-based resolution will enable a very ambitious science program. This includes a multi-pronged approach to measure the expansion history of the universe, to complement NASA’s Kepler mission by discovering thousands of planets down to sub-Earth masses, and to perform revolutionary studies in stellar and galactic astrophysics. Roman will also have a high performance coronagraph to directly image planets around nearby stars.

 

The Roman mission is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center with participation by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), and several industrial and foreign partners.

 

Synergy with HST, JWST, and Observatories in the 2020s

Roman will produce large-scale maps of the night sky at the resolution and sensitivity of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), but with a field of view 200 times larger than Hubble’s infrared view. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will have higher resolution, and sensitivity 100 times as powerful as Hubble, but will have about the same sized field of view as Hubble. With its large field of view and high resolution, Roman surveys will discover rare astronomical objects that can be followed up by JWST and other powerful telescopes being built in the 2020s. Roman’s Hubble-like resolution and sensitivity will allow astronomers to test and calibrate the photometric precision, astrometry, classification systems, and the effect of source blending for large ground-based surveys performed in the 2020s, such as the Rubin Observatory's Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). Roman will add valuable near-infrared colors to the LSST’s visible imaging catalogs, improving measurements of the photometric redshift of galaxies and the properties of their stellar populations.

Additional Resources

Front cover of brochure with a graphic identifier of the Roman Space Telescope at the top, an illustration of Nancy Grace Roman at the bottom, and the title Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Science and Technical Brochure in the middle.

June 2024

Roman Science and Technical Overview

This six-panel trifold brochure provides a current overview of the scientific capabilities, technical specifications, and operations of the Nancy Grade Roman Space Telescope. The brochure is a condensed, updated, and redesigned version of the 36-page booklet previously published here.

2 MB

Pre-footer

Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope insignia

The NASA Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is managed by NASA/GSFC with participation of STScI, Caltech/IPAC, and NASA/JPL.

Contact the Roman Team