NASA mission to use balloon larger than football field to send telescope above Antarctica

ASA's upcoming mission, the Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths 

(ASTHROS), will use a football-field-sized balloon to send a telescope approximately 40,000 metres above Antarctica,

Where it will study a phenomenon that stifles star formation in some galaxies, thereby killing them.

ASTHROS will utilise a 2.5-meter primary mirror, which will also serve as the telescope's principal light-gathering instrument,

And will be the largest primary mirror ever flown on a high-altitude stratospheric balloon.

At an altitude of around 40,000 metres (about 130,000 feet), ASTHROS will observe wavelengths of light that cannot be viewed from the ground due to the Earth's atmosphere.

NASA reports that the telescope's big mirror will improve its ability to monitor fainter light sources and to resolve finer details of those sources.

The telescope will explore star-forming zones in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, where stellar feedback occurs and develop 3D maps of gas distribution and velocity. 

It will also investigate distant galaxies with millions of stars to see how feedback works on large scales.

The mission is scheduled to launch from NASA's Long Duration Balloon Facility in Antarctica, near McMurdo Station, no sooner than December 2023.


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