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A Large Stadium Sized Balloon Will Be Used To Deploy A Telescope

The project’s experts believe that a telescope strapped to a stadium-sized balloon will be released into the upper atmosphere next year and will be able to take photos that rival Hubble’s.
The SuperBIT is a spacecraft that will fly 28 miles above the Earth’s surface and circumnavigate the globe while collecting pictures of the universe.
It will make its operational debut in April 2022, when a team from the University of Toronto and NASA will launch it from New Zealand.
The telescope’s mirror is 0.5 meters in diameter, and because to a novel NASA superpressure balloon design, it will be able to stay in the air for months at a time.
Unlike the James Webb telescope, which is set to launch in November and will work in the infrared, SuperBIT will operate at frequencies similar to Hubble’s, allowing the project’s backers to portray it as a natural successor to the aging observatory.
It cost roughly $5 million (PS3.6 million) to launch, compared to $1.5 billion (PS1.1 billion) for Hubble, and it may be taken down for maintenance or upgrades on a regular basis.
A SuperBIT optical and ultraviolet composite image of the ‘Pillars of Creation,’ trunks of gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula, 7,000 light years away in the direction of the constellation of Serpens NASA SUPER PRESSURE BALLOONS A super pressure balloon in flight above NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Texas in June 2016 during tests to preparation for the primary mission in 2022 A SuperBIT optical and ultraviolet composite image of the ‘Pillars of Creation,’ trunks of gas
The NASA Super Pressure Balloon is a sealed structure filled with a precise amount of helium-based lifting gas.
After launch, the balloon rises, and the Helium expands as the ambient atmospheric pressure falls.
It’s designed to fly at a certain pressure altitude while carrying a known tonnage of payload.
The surplus Helium is not evacuated when the balloon reaches the desired float altitude; instead, it fills out the shape and pressurizes the balloon.
The amount of Helium placed into the balloon at start is determined by the amount required to lift the entire flying system plus some extra Helium to give an upward force.
This extra Helium is just enough to pressurize the balloon when it reaches float altitude, but it’s too much to overpressurize it.
The Super Pressure Balloon is made to fly with a constant positive internal pressure.
When the balloon is heated by the sun during the day, the internal pressure is higher, and when the balloon cools at night, the differential pressure is considerably lower, but still above ambient.
Advertisement Durham, Toronto, and Princeton universities collaborated with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency to create this one-of-a-kind floating observatory, with the potential for a future fleet of airborne observatories.
When tethered to a helium balloon the size of a football stadium, it should be able to capture high-resolution photographs of distant galaxies, planets in our solar system, and stars.
Light from a faraway galaxy can travel billions of years to reach our telescopes, according to Mohamed Shaaban, a PhD student at the University of Toronto.
‘The light needs to pass through the Earth’s spinning, tumultuous atmosphere in the final fraction of a second, and our vision of the universe gets muddled,’ he said.
To overcome part of this, ground-based observatories are built at great altitudes, with many in Chile exceeding 2,000 meters above sea level.
Until now, only putting a telescope in space has been able to totally bypass the effects of the atmosphere, due to balloons’ inability to stay aloft for long enough.
The Superpressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope (or SuperBIT) contains a 0.5-meter-diameter mirror and is lifted to a height of 40 kilometers by a helium balloon with a volume of 532,000 cubic meters, about equivalent to a football stadium.
Its final test flight in 2019 displayed exceptional pointing stability, with a variation of less than one thirty-six thousandth of a degree over the course of more than an hour.
This means that the telescope can focus on a single point of light for long enough to collect significant data and produce magnificent photos.
According to the team, this should allow a telescope to provide images as sharp as those produced by the Hubble Space Telescope.
‘No one has done this before, not just because it is extremely difficult, but also because balloons can only stay aloft for a few nights, which is too short for a large-scale experiment,’ the developers added.
SuperBIT is making final preparations for its September 2019 launch from Timmins Stratospheric Balloon Base in Canada. When it launches from New Zealand in April, it will be carried by seasonally steady winds, orbit the Earth multiple times while photographing the sky all night, and then use solar panels to recharge its batteries during the day.
SuperBIT was almost 1000 times less expensive than a similar satellite, with a construction and operation expenditure of $5 million (PS3.62 million) for the first telescope.
Not only are balloons less expensive than rocket fuel, but their ability to return to Earth and relaunch means that their design has been refined during multiple test flights.
HUBBLE IS IMPORTANT TO ASTRONOMY HOW IMPORTANT IS HUBBLE TO ASTRONOMY? Test images taken with the new balloon-launched telescope (left) show the spectacular Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebular, and right are the identical pillars obtained by Hubble.
MailOnline chatted with a number of renowned scientists to find out how significant Hubble is to the field of astronomy.
‘Apart from Galileo’s first use of a telescope for astronomy in 1609, Hubble has been the most important telescope in the history of astronomy,’ says Professor Peter Wheatley of the University of Warwick Department of Physics.
‘Its ability to produce razor-sharp photographs of nebulae and distant galaxies has been game-changing.’
Being in space has also given astronauts access to ultraviolet light from stars and galaxies that would otherwise be shielded by the Earth’s atmosphere.
‘Hubble is also meant to be a very versatile telescope, with a variety of cameras, which has helped it to remain relevant as new fields of astronomy have grown in importance.’
‘For example, Hubble has made a significant contribution to my own field of planetary atmosphere research, despite the fact that the first exoplanet had yet to be discovered when Hubble was launched.
‘The sequence of servicing flights carried out by NASA astronauts have contributed significantly to its versatility and longevity.’
‘Apart from the moon landings, I believe these servicing missions have been the most amazing feat of manned spaceflight,’ says Affelia Wibisono, a researcher at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory. ‘The Hubble Space Telescope is without a doubt one of the most successful space missions ever.’
‘It has revolutionized our understanding of the Universe – from determining new moons around Pluto to getting the first visual photograph of a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun, from discovering that each galaxy has a black hole at its center to assisting in the creation of a 3D map of dark matter, Hubble has caused astronomers to rewrite textbooks.’
‘It would be considerably more difficult for me to undertake my work researching Jupiter’s northern and southern lights without the Hubble Space Telescope.’
‘Hubble has made over 1.5 million observations, resulting in tens of thousands of scientific papers, but I feel one of the most significant things it has done is to inspire and amaze anybody who has seen its amazing photographs.’ Advertisement Satellites must operate first time, therefore they often have pricey redundancy on board, including backup modules.
They also frequently include ten-year-old technology that was previously space-qualified by a previous mission.
The development team purchased the cutting-edge camera for SuperBIT’s latest test flight a few weeks before launch since modern digital cameras improve every year.
Every future mission will be able to upgrade or add new instruments to this space telescope.
During the Space Shuttle era, Hubble could only do this every few years.
In the long run, when the Hubble Space Telescope fails, it will not be fixed again – it was only supposed to last a decade, but thanks to many repairs and modifications, it has lasted 30 years.
Hubble stopped working in recent weeks due to a computer glitch, and was only brought back online after NASA’s ‘risky’ remote repair operation.
ESA/NASA missions will be able to image just infrared wavelengths or in a single optical band for the next 20 years after Hubble’s failure.
SuperBIT will be the world’s sole facility capable of high-resolution multicolor optical and ultraviolet studies by then, according to the scientists.
They’ve already received funds to create an upgrade for SuperBIT’s mirror, which will increase its size to 1.5 metres and possibly two metres in the future.
These will increase light gathering power tenfold at 1.5 metres, and when paired with a wider angle lens and more megapixels, will gather photos better than Hubble.
Because of the low cost, it is even possible to have a fleet of space telescopes available to astronomers all around the world.
‘New balloon technology makes space travel affordable, simple, and environmentally beneficial,’ Shaaban added.
‘SuperBIT can be changed and improved at any time, but its maiden mission will observe the Universe’s largest particle accelerators: collisions between galaxies.’ The science goal for the 2022 flight is to detect the properties of dark matter particles via galaxy scale collisions.
Despite the fact that dark matter is invisible, astronomers use gravitational lensing to map the way it bends light rays.
SuperBIT will see if dark matter slows down when it collides.
Although no particle colliders on Earth can accelerate dark matter, this is a critical signature anticipated by theories that could explain recent observations of strangely behaving muons, which could change the universe’s ‘fundamental model.’
Professor continued, “Cavemen might bash rocks together to see what they’re made of.”
Durham University’s Richard Massey
‘SuperBIT is on the hunt for dark matter crunch.’
The experiment is the same; all you need is a space telescope to view it.’

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