NASA Seeks Donated Telescope to Find New Planets

NASA is studying a plan to use a spy satellite telescope for a proposed $1.63 billion space observatory that would study dark and search for new planets outside the solar system, Space.com reported Tuesday.

Miriam Kramer writes an independent group of scientists recently concluded in a study that NASA could use two telescopes donated by the National Reconnaissance Office for missions under the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope program.

Kramer reports that study, led by Neil Gehrels from the Goddard Space Flight Center and David Spergel of Princeton University, was commissioned after NASA received the telescopes in June 2012.

Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA's science mission directorate, said during a presentation that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has asked a team to pre-formulate a proposal and official decision has been made, according to the report.

The NRO telescope has 8-foot-wide primary mirrors and a wider field of view compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, Kramer writes.

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