(ORDO NEWS) — The US space agency plans to send a telescope with the world’s largest mirror into the stratosphere.
According to the plan of scientists, the device will be raised above the Earth with the help of a stratospheric balloon. He will spend 4 weeks over Antarctica, exploring the Milky Way.
“The hardest mission ever”
Scientists note that this will be the most difficult mission of this kind in history, since the size of the telescope’s mirror is 2.5 meters.
In this case, it is very important to ensure the accuracy of maintaining their parabolic shape. Taking into account the shocks during the flight, this figure should be 0.0001 inches.
I think this is probably the most sophisticated telescope built for high altitude ballooning. We had technical specifications similar to space telescopes, but with a more limited budget, training schedule and mass.
We had to combine the technologies of ground-based telescopes that observe at similar wavelengths with the advanced manufacturing technologies used for professional racing sailboats. It’s quite unique, ” said Jose Siles, ASTHROS Project Manager.
To accomplish this task, NASA turned to the Italian company Media Lario , which specializes in the development of complex optics.
As part of the project, specialists constructed the largest mirror from light aluminum panels and gold-plated nickel. This mirror was then mounted on a carbon composite stand, providing high strength with low weight.
What will a telescope do in the stratosphere
When the device is launched into the sky over Antarctica, the mirror will begin to reflect weak light in the far infrared range.
This will allow ASTHROS to look at star-forming regions in the Milky Way , create high-resolution star maps, track the distribution and movement of gases, and compare them with the state of other galaxies.
Soon NASA will install equipment on the balloon, after which it will conduct a series of pre-flight tests. The full start of the ASTHROS mission is scheduled for December next year.
The NASA-led Astrophysical Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Submillimeter Wavelength Observations (ASTHROS) mission promises to be the largest and one of the most productive projects in this field.
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