Two seemingly unlikely contenders are locked in space race, according to Daily Galaxy, each funding telescopes that will collect unprecedented imaging from space.
...the future Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, partially funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates... is projected for ‘first light’ in 2014 in Chile's Atacama Desert - the world's Southern Hemisphere space - observatory mecca. The 8.4-meter telescope will be able to survey the entire visible sky deeply in multiple colors every week with its 3-billion pixel digital camera. The telescope will probe the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, and it will open a movie-like window on objects that change or move rapidly: exploding supernovae, potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids and distant Kuiper Belt objects.
In a "relentless campaign of 15 second exposures,"
LSST is truly an Internet telescope, which will put terabytes of data each night into the hands of anyone that wants to explore it. The 8.4-metre LSST telescope and the 3-gigapixel camera are thus a shared resource for all humanity — the ultimate network peripheral device to explore the universe (hyperlink supplied).
For its part, Google is partially funding a proposed space-borne telescope said to be capable of finding perhaps a thousand new planetary systems within two years following first light. It will look for transiting exoplanets and funnel that data to Google's web application, Google Sky.
Given enough funding, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite could begin its work as early as 2012.