Astronomy & Space

NASA selects mission to discover origins of cosmos – Astronomy Now

February 15, 2019 • By
NASA has authorized a brand new mission – SPHEREx – to review how the universe developed. Launch is focused for 2023. Picture: Caltech

NASA has chosen a brand new house mission that can assist astronomers perceive each how our universe developed and the way frequent are the elements for all times in our galaxy’s planetary methods.

The Spectro-Photometer for the Historical past of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission is a deliberate two-year mission funded at $242 million (not together with launch prices) and focused to launch in 2023.

SPHEREx will survey the sky in optical in addition to near-infrared gentle which, although not seen to the human eye, serves as a strong instrument for answering cosmic questions. Astronomers will use the mission to collect knowledge on greater than 300 million galaxies, in addition to greater than 100 million stars in our personal Milky Manner.

“This amazing mission will be a treasure trove of unique data for astronomers,” mentioned Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “It will deliver an unprecedented galactic map containing ‘fingerprints’ from the first moments in the universe’s history. And we’ll have new clues to one of the greatest mysteries in science: What made the universe expand so quickly less than a nanosecond after the big bang?”

SPHEREx will survey a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of galaxies close to and much, some so distant their gentle has taken 10 billion years to achieve Earth. Within the Milky Manner, the mission will seek for water and natural molecules – necessities for all times, as we all know it – in stellar nurseries, areas the place stars are born from gasoline and dirt, in addition to disks round stars the place new planets may very well be forming.

Each six months, SPHEREx will survey the whole sky utilizing applied sciences tailored from Earth satellites and Mars spacecraft. The mission will create a map of the whole sky in 96 totally different color bands, far exceeding the color decision of earlier all-sky maps. It additionally will determine targets for extra detailed research by future missions, corresponding to NASA’s James Webb House Telescope and Broad Area Infrared Survey Telescope.

The mission’s principal investigator is James Bock of Caltech in Pasadena, California. Caltech will work with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop the mission payload. JPL may even handle the mission.

Ball Aerospace in Broomfield, Colorado, will present the SPHEREx spacecraft and mission integration. The Korea Astronomy & House Science Institute in Daejeon, Republic of Korea, will contribute check tools and science evaluation.