NASA has completed work on the design of the payload of the Observatory ASTHROS, which will help to study how stars are born in gas clouds. As reported on the website space Agency, it will be launched into the stratosphere on a high-altitude balloon.
Despite the fact that high-altitude balloons or hot-air balloonsmay seem outdated technology, NASA is still actively used for scientific experiments. Since the launch of the stratosphere is much cheaper rocket launch, and also does not require so long a training, scientists can take higher risks associated with the use of new or more modern devices and tools that have not yet been tested in space. Identifying technical or operational problems that may affect scientific results research, engineers can Refine the technology in the early stages and then use them during future missions.
Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths (ASTHROS) is a lightweight telescope, which consists of a 2.5-meter parabolicheskoi plates, and a set of mirrors, lenses and detectors. It will observe the Universe in the far infrared range, which are clearly visible the young hot stars. This tool will rise to a height of 40 kilometers — four times higher than commercial aircraft, but still below the Pocket, which is considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. The telescope will raise the 150-meter balloon filled with helium.
During the flight ASTHROS will examine the movement of gas in four regions of active star formation, including the Carina Nebula in the milky Way. Using the data, astronomers will build the first three-dimensional map of density, velocity and gas flow in these regions that will allow them to better understand how to interact with newborns gigantic luminaries with the surrounding substance. In addition, the Observatory will determine whether these clouds of gas ions of nitrogen, which can indicate places where the winds from massive stars and supernova explosions changed the shape of the gas cloud. It is believed that such processes can either accelerate or conversely hinder the birth of new stars. Analyzing them in detail, astronomers hope to Refine computer models of the evolution of galaxies.
The start of the mission is scheduled for December 2023. According to plans NASA, ASTHROS fly from Antarctica and will make three or four turns around the South pole within 21-28 days. After the Observatory will carry out research tasks, operators will give her the command to end flight. Gondola, which will carry a telescope will separate and descend back to Earth using a parachute that will allow you to keep the tool and use it again.
The most famous of the stratospheric Observatory SOFIA is NASA, which operates from the side of an airplane. Thanks to it, the astronomers were able to obtain the clearest image of the nebula, W51, make a new map of the Horsehead nebula, as well as to confirmthat the alignment of the particles of cosmic dust relative to the magnetic field lines depends on the amount of received radiation.