Astronomical overload: How will we study new data on universe?

NASA Hubble image
This undated photo supplied by NASA and the European Space Agency shows the Hubble Space Telescope's image of the star V838 Monocerotis, located about 20,000 light-years away on the outer edge of the Milky Way.
AP Photo/NASA-ESA Hubble Team

The amount of data we have on the universe is doubling every year thanks to new telescopes and better detection. According to Alberto Conti, innovation scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, we can expect to have more data on our universe then we have on the entire internet today by 2025.

That's exciting news, but many in the astronomy world are worried that scientists are accumulating more data than we can examine and are turning to new methods such as recruiting civilian stargazers and encouraging the public to take part in helping understand the universe. How can we keep up with ever-improving technology and what discovery potential can we expect from these new telescopes, especially the Hubble's successor, the James Webb?

Conti will join The Daily Circuit Wednesday to discuss the future of space research.

"Until 25 years ago, we were pretty good at building telescopes, but over the last 30 years we've become 100 times more efficient, but we're not necessarily more efficient at analysis," Conti said. "Not only do you have to take care of the collection of data, but you have to understand how these amounts of data will change research."

In order to analyze the data collected about space, interested members of the public will be very important, he said.

"We did a test to see if people were interested in producing images from the telescopes on their own and the public always has a huge interest," Conti said. "It's shifting in that people want to not just look at pictures but now they want to know what they mean and they want to try to contribute to science."

Massimo Stiavelli, the James Web Space Telescope mission head and a project scientist at the Space Telescope Institute, will also join the discussion.

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