NASA Will Send Mission To Study Cosmic Material Between Stars

Posted: Mar 27 2017, 6:19am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 27 2017, 6:22am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA will Send Mission to Study Cosmic Material Between Stars
Credits: NASA, ESA, and Hubble Heritage Team

The mission will directly measure the emissions from interstellar medium. The data will help researchers understand the life cycle of stars

NASA is planning to launch a mission that will analyze and study cosmic material found between the stars. Measuring the emissions from interstellar medium will allow researchers to better understand the formation of stars and their life cycle or the stages they go through during their life.

Named Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO), the mission will use Ultralong-Duration Balloon (ULDB) and a telescope carrying carbon, oxygen and nitrogen emission line detectors.

ULDBs are completely sealed balloons with no open ducts. Since the balloon contains no passage to release gas, the pressure builds up inside it as the gas expands. These balloons are ideal for conducting long term missions and touching higher altitudes.

Upon reaching the plane of Milky Way galaxy and the nearby galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, the telescope and detectors installed on the balloon will measure emissions from interstellar medium and provide a unique set of data that is not possible from ground.

“GUSTO will provide the first complete study of all phases of the stellar life cycle, from the formation of molecular clouds, through star birth and evolution, to the formation of gas clouds and the re-initiation of the cycle,” said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director in the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “NASA has a great history of launching observatories in the Astrophysics Explorers Program with new and unique observational capabilities. GUSTO continues that tradition.”

The mission is scheduled to launch from McMurdo station in Antarctica in 2021. The balloon will stay in the air between 100 to 170 days, depending on weather conditions while the mission will cost approximately $40 million.

The interstellar medium or the matter that fills the space between stars in the galaxy has been a focus of NASA’s interest for many years and the space agency has already been using multiple types of balloons in various missions to carry scientific payloads in our Earth’s atmosphere and beyond.

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