NASA will deploy a giant balloon in the stratosphere to study stars
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans to send a 2.5-meter telescope into the upper stratosphere to study newborn stars, attaching it to a hot air balloon the size of a football stadium.
The main task of ASTHROS (astrophysical stratospheric telescope for observations with high spectral resolution at submillimeter wavelengths) will be to study the gas around young celestial bodies and supernovae. It will detect infrared radiation that is normally blocked by the earth’s atmosphere.
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Therefore, the researchers decided to raise the telescope to a height of about 40 km using a balloon. To lift such a payload, the diameter of the ball must be at least 100 m.
The telescope’s sensors will track four objects, including the Carina Nebula. Data on the motion, velocity, density of gases around young stars and the presence of certain types of nitrogen ions will help astrophysicists better understand the influence of supernova explosions on the evolution of stellar systems, and refine models of galaxy formation.
After a month of observation and flight over the South Pole, NASA operators will detach the ASTHROS from the airborne probe and lower it to the surface with parachutes, allowing it to be reused later.
The launch is scheduled for December 2023.
In addition, NASA recently announced that it wants to photograph the surfaces of exoplanets using the Sun as a lens.