NASA plans to send telescope into the stratosphere aboard a stadium-sized balloon to study the cosmos – Technology News, Firstpost


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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is preparing to send a 2.5-meter telescope into the stratosphere aboard a balloon the size of a football stadium. The ASTHROS (stratospheric astrophysical telescope for high spectral resolution observations at submillimeter wavelengths) is scheduled to launch in December 2023 from Antarctica.

According to an article by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which will manage the mission, the telescope will be placed in the outer atmosphere to observe wavelengths of light "blocked" by the Earth's atmosphere. You will be able to observe light with wavelengths that are "much longer" than what we humans can see.

ASTHROS will be parked at a height of 1.30,000 feet, which is "approximately four times that of commercial aircraft flying", to study the far infrared light that is not visible to the human eye. The altitude is still too low for the limits of space.

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The observatory's payload will include the telescope, scientific instruments and certain subsystems, such as the electronic and cooling system. In early August, JPL engineers will begin integrating and testing subsystems. Only recently did the team complete the telescope payload design.

"Balloon missions like ASTHROS are at greater risk than space missions, but they generate big rewards at a modest cost," said JPL engineer Jose Siles, who is also a project manager for ASTHROS.

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He added that this ambitious mission aims to successfully carry out "astrophysical observations" that have never been attempted before. "The mission will pave the way for future space missions by testing new technologies and providing training for the next generation of engineers and scientists."

The mission "will measure the movement and velocity of the gas around newly formed stars" and will have four main targets. It will observe two regions of the Milky Way where stars are born and the telescope will also "map the presence" of two types of nitrogen ions that reveal the places where "winds" from supernova explosions "reshaped" the gas clouds "within these regions of star formation ".

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