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Astronomy

Dark, perhaps forever: satellite mission will target mysteries of universe

This fall, NASA and the Department of Energy plan to invite proposals for a $600 million satellite mission devoted to dark energy. But some scientists fear that might not be enough. When astronomers and physicists gathered at the Space Telescope Science Institute recently to take stock of the revolution, their despair of getting to the bottom of the dark energy mystery anytime soon, if ever, was palpable, even as they anticipate a flood of new data from the sky in coming years. When it came time for one physicist to discuss new ideas about dark energy, he showed a blank screen.

The institute's director, Matt Mountain, said that dark energy had given this generation of astronomers a rare opportunity, and he admonished them to use it wisely. "We are placing a large bet," Dr. Mountain said, "using our credibility as collateral, that we as a community know what we are doing."

(Matt Mountain is the Conference Dinner speaker at the SPIE Astronomical Instrumentation Symposium, June 23-28 in Marseille, France.)

Full story from the New York Times.