The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is equipping to send a 2.5 meter (8.4 foot) telescope into the stratosphere on board a balloon of the size of a football stadium. The Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter wavelengths (ASTHROS) is planned to be propelled in December 2023 from Antarctica.
The telescope will be set in the outer atmosphere to observe light wavelengths that are “blocked” by Earth’s atmosphere, as indicated by an article by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which will deal with the mission. ASTHROS will have the option to watch light with wavelengths that are “much longer” than what we people can see.
The balloon will be positioned at a height of 1,30,000 feet (~40 kilometers), which is “roughly four times higher than commercial airliners fly”, to study the far-infrared light that isn’t obvious to the human eye. The altitude is still extremely low to the boundary of space.
The fundamental payloads in the balloon will be a telescope, science instruments, and certain subsystems like cooling and electronic systems. By early August 2020, JPL engineers will start joining and testing of subsystems. It was only recently that the group finished the design for the telescope’s payload.
“Balloon missions like ASTHROS are higher-risk than space missions but yield high-rewards at modest cost,” said JPL engineer Jose Siles, who is also the project manager for ASTHROS.
He included that this ambitious mission is planning to successfully direct perceptions in astronomy that have never been endeavored.
“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,” Siles added.
The mission will measure the motion and speed of gas around recently formed stars, with four significant targets previously wanted in the first place. ASTHROS will watch two areas in the Milky Way where stars are born. The telescope will likewise map the presence of two sorts of nitrogen ions that uncover the spots where “winds” from supernova blasts have reshaped the clouds of gas and dust in these active, energetic star-forming regions of the galaxy.