A stadium-sized helium balloon is used to lift the nearest telescope, the NASA and the Canadian space agency want to send into the upper layers of the earth’s atmosphere, according to a report from Gizmodo. The telescope is said to be the successor to the Hubble telescope and is called the High pressure balloon-borne imaging telescope or SuperBIT for short. It was designed by the University of Toronto, Princeton University and Durham University in England, in collaboration with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, and is scheduled to launch from New Zealand in March 2022. The balloon telescope can stay in the stratosphere for weeks or even months.
Superpressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope: The Purpose
The main purpose of SuperBIT is to “provide insight into the distribution of dark matter in galaxy clusters and the large-scale structure of the universe,” said a post on the University of Toronto’s website. A helium balloon with a volume of 532,000 cubic meters will lift the SuperBIT 40 kilometers into the air. The telescope cost about $ 5 million to build. One of the perceived benefits of SuperBIT is the benefit that it is not affected by weather changes such as cloudy conditions at night or smog due to forest fires, as it is located in the stratosphere above the troposphere and is therefore largely clear of and unaffected by weather conditions , as most weather activity takes place in the troposphere. With the help of the solar panels designed in its structure, the SuperBIT is supposed to display at night and thus circle the globe.
Superpressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope: Why the Need?
The report quotes a SuperBIT team member Mohamed Shaaban as saying that the Hubble telescope is aging and also oversubscribed, which means it is getting more work orders than it can complete. This gave rise to the need for new telescopes that could assist the Hubble in observing space.
A telescope with an optical system three times the size of SuperBIT is also in the works, according to the report. It will be called GigaBIT and is expected to complete the first test flight in September 2022. The Euclid Telescope of the European space agency is also planned to be introduced next year.