A number of new telescopes are soon going to be entered into service, all of which are far more powerful than equivalent predecessors. This is fully expected by any longtime reader of The Futurist, for space-related articles have been a favorite theme here.
To begin, refer to the vintage 2006 article where I estimated telescope power to be rising at a compound annual rate of approximately 26%/year, although that is a trendline of a staircase with very large steps. This, coincidentally, is exactly the same rate at which computer graphics technology advances, which also happens to be the square root of Moore's Law's rate of progress. According to this timeline, a wave of powerful telescopes arriving now happens to be right on schedule. Secondly, refer to one of the very best articles on The Futurist, titled 'SETI and the Singularity', where the impact of increasing telescopic power is examined. The exponential increase in the detection of exoplanets (chart from Wikipedia), and the implications for the Drake Equation, are measured, with a major prediction about extraterrestrial life contained therein.
Building on that, in the ATOM e-book, I detail how accelerating technological progress has a major impact on space exploration. Contrary to a widely-repeated belief that space exploration has plateaued since the Apollo program, technology has ensure that quite the opposite is true. Exoplanet detection is now in the hundreds per year (and soon to be in the thousands), even as technologies such as 3D Printing in space and asteroid mining are poised to generate great wealth here on Earth. With space innovation no longer exclusively the domain of the US, costs have lowered through competition. India has launched a successful Mars orbiter at 1/10th the cost of equivalent US or Russian programs, which has been in operation for two years.
Related ATOM Chapters :