NASA’s Future Telescopes Will Float at the Edge of Space

NASA wants a new type of space telescope. A team of scientists and engineers at NASA are developing ways to send ultra cold and ultra-large balloon telescopes to the edge of space, which could open up a brand new way of seeing the cosmos.

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NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin are practically synonymous with rockets… those massive, powerful vehicles allow us to travel beyond Earth. But while the ongoing competition to launch the world’s next best rocket tends to dominate news headlines, there’s a little-known mission at NASA to develop a new kind of space telescope… and this project is using something else entirely – balloons.

You can do more science in a single balloon flight than you could do from years and years of observing from any of these existing observatories. You can take technology risks on a balloon that would never be able to take on a space mission. So, you can do all kinds of crazy things.

Like sending massive telescopes that are cooled to near absolute zero to the edge of space. These ultra colds balloon telescopes could heighten our understanding of the universe overnight. Not only can you see things that you wouldn’t be able to see but you can look for things well beyond our own galaxy and even to the edge of the universe all the way back to the Big Bang.

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This historic form of transportation could be the future of space exploration…​ “Today, balloons are largely relegated to party decorations and state-fair rides, but once hot air balloons were the cutting edge of transport technology, able to convey people and things to places humans had never ventured before. Now, scientists are turning to balloons once more — this time, as a way to create floating space observatories and internet service stations.”

NASA Creates Technologies to Gather Great Observatory Science from a Balloon…​ “NASA Scientist Al Kogut has found a way to do Hubble Space Telescope-class science from a relatively inexpensive scientific balloon and is well on the way to proving the concept.”

NASA Kicks off 2019 Balloon Campaign in New Mexico…​ “BOBCAT is a technology demonstration developed by Dr. Alan J. Kogut of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Kogut and his team plan to develop a series of experiments for balloon flights that would radically improve the sensitivity of the next generation of observations in the far-infrared universe, which is a wavelength commonly used to study black holes, nebulas, and the formation of new solar systems.”​

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