There’s no question that exoplanets are the hottest topic in astronomy right now. Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society reports that 30% of all papers presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting this month were on exoplanets. Unfortunately, current telescopes do not permit exoplanet researchers to go beyond what Dr. Geoff Marcy calls “census taking.”
A 100-meter space telescope would revolutionize the field of exoplanet research. It would also be useful in other areas of astronomy, of course.
The Keck Institute for Space Studies is funding the development of an innovative concept for building such a telescope from self-assembling components. This technique would eliminate the need for development of a large and very expensive new rocket.