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

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A telescope will be sent about 40,000 metres above Antarctica as part of a NASA mission called Astrophysics Stratospheric 

Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths (ASTHROS)

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This telescope will be used to study a phenomenon that prevents star formation in some galaxies, essentially killing them.

The primary mirror for ASTHROS, which is also the telescope's principal light-gathering device, will be 2.5 metres in diameter

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making it one of the largest mirrors ever to sail on a high-altitude stratospheric balloon.

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ASTHROS will monitor light wavelengths that are obstructed by Earth's atmosphere and are not visible from the ground, high in the stratosphere (at a height of around 130,000 feet)

 According to NASA, the telescope's massive mirror will improve its capacity to observe and resolve finer features of fainter light sources.

Why balloon missions?

These missions often cost less than space missions, take less time to complete from early planning to deployment, and involve cutting-edge

technology that can be used to upcoming space missions, according to NASA.

Ten to fifteen balloon missions are launched annually by the agency's Scientific Balloon Program.

Image Credit:nasa

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