Universe  ID: 13583

Hubble, Roman and Webb Space Telescopes Infographic

NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, formerly called the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), planned for launch in the mid-2020s, will create enormous cosmic panoramas. Using them, astronomers will explore everything from our solar system to the edge of the observable universe, including planets throughout our galaxy and the nature of dark energy.

Though it’s often compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, The Roman Space Telescope will study the cosmos in a unique and complementary way.

Thirty years after its launch, Hubble continues to provide us with stunning, detailed images of the universe. When WFIRST opens its eyes to the cosmos, it will generate much larger images while matching Hubble’s crisp infrared resolution.

Hubble adds to our picture of the universe in ways the Roman Space Telescope can’t by using ultraviolet vision that captures the high-resolution details, and by providing more specialized features for in-depth study of the light emitted by individual objects. WFIRST provides a more general capability in covering wide areas at visible and infrared wavelengths.

Each Roman Space Telescope image will capture a patch of the sky bigger than the apparent size of a full Moon. Hubble’s widest exposures, taken with its Advanced Camera for Surveys, are nearly 100 times smaller. Over the first five years of observations, the Roman Space Telescope will image over 50 times as much sky as Hubble has covered so far in 30 years.​

The James Webb Space Telescope is an orbiting infrared observatory now being built that will also complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity. The longer wavelengths enable Webb to look much closer to the beginning of time and to hunt for the unobserved formation of the first galaxies, as well as to look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today.

The Roman Space Telescope and Webb benefit from an additional 30 years of major technological advances, however Hubble will continue to transform our understanding of the universe. In the coming years, the Roman Space Telescope's enormous infrared surveys will reveal interesting targets for follow up by other missions. Hubble can view the targets in additional wavelengths of light and will provide the only high-resolution view of the ultraviolet universe. The James Webb Space Telescope can make detailed observations that go even further into the infrared with its high-resolution, zoomed in view. Combining the the Roman Space Telescope's findings with Hubble’s and Webb’s could revolutionize our understanding in a multitude of cosmic pursuits.


Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Producer
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Designer
Claire Andreoli (NASA/GSFC): Public Affairs Officer
Dominic Benford (NASA/HQ): Advisor
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center