back to article NASA renames dark-energy telescope after its first Chief of Astronomy and Mother of Hubble: Nancy Grace Roman

NASA has renamed its forthcoming Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) after the agency’s first Chief of Astronomy, Nancy Grace Roman, who drove the Hubble project and pushed for a computing-based approach to sky scanning. The space telescope's new name, The Nancy Grace Roman Telescope, was unveiled by NASA …

  1. macjules Silver badge

    "The Coronagraphic Instrument is an exoplanet hunter"

    Shh, people won't buy it if you use Corona in the name.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: "The Coronagraphic Instrument is an exoplanet hunter"

      Surely this is a coronagraphic? --->

      1. Charlie van Becelaere

        Re: "The Coronagraphic Instrument is an exoplanet hunter"

        Hardly. Corona has barely enough colour to distinguish it from water.

    2. Richard Boyce

      Re: "The Coronagraphic Instrument is an exoplanet hunter"

      So now we know who created the virus. It was NASA.

      I was about to post the above on its own, but there are at least two possible pitfalls:

      1. Someone will find the message with Google in the future, say "OMG, it all makes sense", and start sending this message to lots of people who have the same reaction, and it will be all be traced to me. Gulp.

      2. Someone will find the message with Google, say "OMG, we're not going to employ this idiot / give this guy a visa".

      So for the aforesaid people, this message is a joke. Laugh. Open your mouth and breath out in rapid pulses while making silly noises.

    3. arctic_haze

      Re: "The Coronagraphic Instrument is an exoplanet hunter"

      Actually, coronaviruses took their name in the 1960s from the Solar corona someone thought they are similar to..

  2. Admiral Grace Hopper

    A worthy tribute

    It's good to see her name put on a thing that directly continues her work.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: A worthy tribute

      It is only fitting to have her name in the stars.

      And it is a good thing that will remind people that, at every step of our advancement in knowledge since at least Ancient Greece (and probably before that), there has always been a woman somewhere developing ideas that no man had thought of before.

      There has been Hypatia in Alexandrian times, of course Marie Curie, and there have been others but those are the two names that come to my mind right now.

      I now know that Nancy Grace Roman is part of this pantheon without which Science would simply not be the same.

      1. Outski

        Re: A worthy tribute

        You can add Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell to that list as well, who was the first to identify pulsars

        1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

          Re: A worthy tribute

          ...and Rosalind Franklin...

          1. Raymond Berenger

            Re: A worthy tribute

            And Lise Meitner, who didn't get the Nobel despite being one of the most referenced nuclear chemists of her day. The Royal Society recognised her after WW2.

            Wolfgang Pauli began his letter to the 1930 Tubingen conference with the words

            "Dear Radioactive Ladies and Gentlemen"...

  3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    What have the Romans ever done for us?

    In this case, quite a lot. I came across her when I got interested in astrophysics, and she was one of those people I'd love to have met. Quite a stellar career, especially I guess in a time where agencies were male dominated, especially on the bureaucratic side.. But she knew her stuff & got results.

    It'll be interesting to see what comes out of these new projects. Dark matter is fascinating, and makes my head hurt. Physics says it should exist, and there's a lot of it, but where is it? Maybe we'll find out soon, but somehow I doubt I'll be able to buy a kilo from Amazon to use as a desk ornament.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: What have the Romans ever done for us?

      Desk ornament.

      Actually, I have a box full of dark matter for sale at a very reasonable €5000, just be aware that due to it's unusual nature, when you open the box, you won't be able to see it or feel it but if you keep it in its special box unopened it will make fine desk ornament and conversation piece.

      Payment in bitcoins only vie

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What have the Romans ever done for us?

        I have an even better deal .....

        I have a box that is *made* of dark matter, held in a non-dark matter matix.

        For fun and to demonstrate how well dark matter can hide in full view, it looks just like a normal 'Burger King' Burger box.

        It includes authentic looking grease stains and lifelike Burger aroma.

        Yours for $4990.99 inc postage/packing.

        :) ;)

        1. Doug_S

          Re: What have the Romans ever done for us?

          How do you get yours to stay put? Every time I collect some and put it in a box, it falls through the box straight to the Earth's core. I tried making the box out of dark matter, but the whole box fell through the table I set it on. So a table made of dark matter ought to do the trick, right?

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: What have the Romans ever done for us?

            I only wanted 1kg.

            But will trade for instructions to construct the perfect* summoning circle.

            *By 'perfect', I mean it'll summon a pizza, perfectly cooked**. Everyone likes pineapple, anchovy & banana, right?

            **Back to science(ish)-


            We may have spotted a parallel universe going backwards in time

            Which confirms 2 things, one that the New Scientist needs to get better at fact-checking. The other that if instructions for the summoning circle aren't followed correctly, then pizza may become a perfectly uncooked brane transplant.

            1. Raymond Berenger

              Re: What have the Romans ever done for us?

              That was the first I knew that New Scientist had merged with the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

              1. Rich 11 Silver badge

                Re: What have the Romans ever done for us?

                They report on speculative ideas all the time. I'm still waiting for evidence that our universe is shaped like a dodecahedron because of all the adjacent universes pressing up against it. (I can't even remember how many decades I've been waiting.)

    2. arctic_haze

      Re: What have the Romans ever done for us?

      I actually wondered if the name will not be shortened to Roman Telescope in most non-official contexts.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...her thesis advisor William Wilson Morgan did not even speak to her for six months...

    ... whenever she greeted him."

    That's a f*cknuckle right there, even for the mid 20th century. Props to her for sticking it out despite the jerks like Morgan; sad this wasn't announced while she was still alive.

  5. F111F

    Politically Astute Decision

    One way to avoid defunding your (project) is naming it for a) a woman; b) pioneer in her field;

    Not saying she doesn't deserve her name in the heavens, but changing the name of the telescope is a very astute political decision in these "woke" times.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Politically Astute Decision

      Thankfully NASA didn't feel the need to go to the extent of shortlisting and selecting the name "Ivanka Trump Space Telescope"

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Politically Astute Decision

        "Ivanka Trump Space Telescope"

        Considering who the 'father' of the U.S. Space Farce is, I am now having nightmares about a future Declaration Class Starship being named the USS Trump.

        I wouldn't mind them naming an Exo-planet after him, providing it's far far away.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Politically Astute Decision

          Sweet Jesus, what a thing it would be seeing the "USS Trump" take to the seas. I imagine it leaving the dock and plowing straight into a wall, accidentally sinking the wrong boat after firing its guns backwards.

          1. Raymond Berenger

            Re: Politically Astute Decision

            I would like to see a dark matter probe named after Trump.

            1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

              Re: Politically Astute Decision

              Dark Matter probe - you must mean the campaign to get the Trump IRS returns published

          2. aberglas

            Re: Politically Astute Decision

            Well, I think there is a USS Reagan. And Reagan makes Trump look intelligent.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Politically Astute Decision

          I wouldn't mind them naming an Exo-planet after him, providing it's far far away.

          And a shithole.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I thought that meant it would point back down to Earth and identify everyone infected with this d*mned virus...

  7. JassMan Silver badge

    Are they now saying dark energy isn't dark?

    The fact that it has an IR telescope to look for it implies they think it is bright but just in another part of the spectrum. Is it just another misnomer like dark side of the moon? Do they know they are going to see dark energy or do they need a new detector that can view negative frequencies.

    The thing about dark energy is that it does your head in just as badly as solving Boltzman equations and finding that half of your RF sidebands are negative frequencies. Does that mean they go backwards intime and arrive at your reciever before you know you want to look for them? Maybe they will never see anything because all the dark energy being emitted now has already zipped past us billions of years ago.

    1. tfb Silver badge

      Re: Are they now saying dark energy isn't dark?

      No, they're not saying that. What they're going to look for is what it's expected to do, not it itself. In particular they're going to look for three things

      • Baryon acoustic oscillations, which are essentially sound waves in the early universe. BAOs constrain dark energy in ways I don't really understand, but they do.
      • Distant supernovae. Supernovae can be used as 'standard candles' – some kinds of supernovae (type 1a, which is when a white dwarf accretes enough matter to fuse carbon) are known to all have the same maximum luminosity (to within a small factor, obviously), which means that by observing their observed luminosity and red-shift you get information about how expansion is changing with distance. And the further you look the more information you get about accelerating expansion, so looking at extremely distant supernovaee helps probe dark energy's effects.
      • Weak gravitational lensing. This is basically exploiting the fact that all light is curved somewhat by mass, even though most of it is only slightly curved (hence 'weak'). Measuring this weak lensing thus gives you an approach to know things about what matter is out there, and knowing things like the density profile of the universe also helps probe dark energy's effects, in particular in conjunction with other measurements.

      And you want an IR telescope to look at very distant things because most of the visible light is red-shifted to the IR because the recession velocity is so great.

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