This eventuality has led my colleagues and me to conceive the ASTRO-1 space telescope at the BoldlyGo Institute. Having direct experience with the acute limitations in federal funding for space science projects, the BoldlyGo Institute was formed to harness private funding to develop and launch cutting-edge space missions. The ASTRO-1 space telescope is designed to provide the next-generation UV-visible imaging and spectroscopic capabilities in the post-Hubble era. The current baseline architecture for ASTRO-1 is a 1.8-meter-diameter space telescope with a novel off-axis, unobscured design that delivers a wide field of view for its large digital camera. The off-axis design results in exquisitely round star images that lack the cross-shaped diffraction spikes commonly seen in astronomical images. Thus, ASTRO-1 will include a coronagraph for exoplanet research, along with a versatile UV-visible spectrograph, in addition to a diffraction-limited imaging camera that will have at least 10 times the field of view of Hubble’s cameras. We plan to make this facility broadly available, and believe the amateur astronomy community served by Astronomy magazine could make up an essential constituency supporting and participating in the construction and use of ASTRO-1.
Jon Morse is the chief executive officer of the BoldlyGo Institute. He has more than 15 years of leadership experience in space missions, space-focused organizations, and science and innovation policy. He served as director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters from 2007 to 2011, leading a strategic re-organization of the division and overseeing the successful completion and launch of several space observatories, including the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, the Kepler planet-finding telescope, and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. Prior to that, he served as a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, with a portfolio encompassing physical sciences and engineering at the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Before joining the government, he was project scientist for the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, an instrument that was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope during the final servicing mission in 2009.
A well-published astrophysicist, his academic leadership experience includes roles as associate director of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the University of Colorado at Boulder and more recently as associate vice president for Research for Physical Sciences & Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a Harvard graduate and earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.