NASA Roman Team Chooses Survey to Map Galaxy's Far Side  

NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope team planned an unparalleled Milky Way plane study. It will map more of our galaxy's stars than all previous surveys combined.  

“There’s a really broad range of science we can explore with this type of survey, from star formation and evolution to dust in between stars and the dynamics of the heart of the galaxy,  

said Catherine Zucker, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who co-authored a white paper on the benefits of such an observing program  

The top proposal to a 2021 Roman survey idea call was a cosmic plane survey. The scientific community will create the observational program before Roman's launch in May 2027.  

“There will be lots of trade-offs since scientists will have to choose between, for example, how much area to cover and how completely to map it in all the different possible filters,” said University of Wisconsin-Whitewater astronomer Robert Benjamin.  

A scan covering 1,000 square degrees, or 5,000 full moons, might uncover around 100 billion cosmic objects, mostly stars, according to experts.  

“That would be pretty close to a complete census of all the stars in our galaxy, and it would only take around a month,  

said white paper lead author Roberta Paladini, a senior research scientist at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. To observe such a wide piece of sky with the Hubble or James Webb space telescopes would take decades. Roman will survey!  

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