Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The View Is Better From Up There: Penn-Led Team To Look To Distant Galaxies With Balloon-Borne Telescope

Date:
June 15, 2005
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the University of Pennsylvania, has launched the most highly sensitive telescope of its kind to be carried by balloon. The Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope -- or BLAST -- will take a five to nine-day journey along the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere. BLAST will collect images of objects in our solar system as well as the distant light that details the formation of stars and the evolution of whole galaxies.

The Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope or BLAST will take a five to nine-day journey along the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere. BLAST will collect images of objects in our solar system as well as the distant light that details the formation of stars and the evolution of whole galaxies.
Credit: Gaelen Marsden, University of British Colombia

PHILADELPHIA -- An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the University of Pennsylvania, has launched the most highly sensitive telescope of its kind to be carried by balloon. The Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope or BLAST will take a five to nine-day journey along the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere. BLAST will collect images of objects in our solar system as well as the distant light that details the formation of stars and the evolution of whole galaxies.

Related Articles


The balloon launched on June 11 from the Swedish Space Corporation facility in Kiruna, Sweden and follow the atmospheric currents toward Canada where it will be recovered.

Suspended by a massive (37 million cubic foot) unmanned helium balloon, the BLAST will float 126,000 feet up, to the edge of space -- past the pollution and atmospheric conditions that hamper the abilities of even the best Earthbound telescopes. When fully inflated, the balloon would fill a football stadium.

"While BLAST won't become a permanent fixture in the sky, balloon-based astronomy offers many of the perks of space-based telescopes at a fraction of the cost of actually putting a telescope in orbit and maintaining it," said Mark Devlin, principle investigator for the BLAST project and associate professor in Penn's Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The telescope's mirror measures two meters (6.5 feet) in diameter and will be capable of surveying a patch of sky about four times the size of the moon to look for faint stellar objects. The entire telescope weighs 2000 kilograms (about 4400 pounds).

On board, 260 detectors, about 20 times as many ever used on a balloon telescope flight, will convert photons from the observed objects into heat. A rise in temperature would thereby measure the number of photons from galaxies formed 5 to 12 billion years ago, when the universe was one-tenth its current age. The detectors will capture light at three separate wavelengths. By measuring the number of photons at each wavelength of light from an object, the astronomers could determine how far away the object is as well as its luminosity.

The goal of the project is to conduct a series of experiments to help accurately formulate theories of the formation of stars within our own galaxy as well as the formation of other galaxies. Chief among those is a series of extra-galactic surveys to identify the distant galaxies responsible for producing the background levels of light and radiation that we see throughout the Universe. In addition, BLAST will survey the molecular clouds associated with the earliest stages of star formation. Closer to home, BLAST will observe features of our own Solar System including planets, and large asteroids.

"Not only are we collecting some unique and interesting information about the universe, but we are also pioneering technologies that will pave the way for other planned balloon projects," Devlin said. "Of course, once we have our data, the real hard part comes in figuring out what all this information means.

Along with Devlin, the Penn BLAST contingent is comprised of Ed Chapin, Simon Dicker, Jeff Klein, Marie Rex and Chris Semisch. In its entirety, the BLAST project is a collaboration between Penn researchers and colleagues at Brown University, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the University of Miami, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cardiff University and the Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica of Mexico.

Support for the research was provided by NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the United Kingdoms Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC).

Technical details about BLAST can be found online at: http://chile1.physics.upenn.edu/blastpublic/index.shtml.

Ongoing details about the launch can be found at the blog of University of British Colombia graduate student Gaelen Marsden (http://www.physics.ubc.ca/~gmarsden/kiruna_2005/) and the blog of University of Toronto graduate student Don Weibe (http://gimli.physics.utoronto.ca/Kiruna_2005/).

Global positioning system tracking of BLAST can be found at NASA's National Scientific Balloon Facility's website:

http://www.nsbf.nasa.gov/sweden/sweden05.htm


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "The View Is Better From Up There: Penn-Led Team To Look To Distant Galaxies With Balloon-Borne Telescope." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050615061421.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2005, June 15). The View Is Better From Up There: Penn-Led Team To Look To Distant Galaxies With Balloon-Borne Telescope. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050615061421.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "The View Is Better From Up There: Penn-Led Team To Look To Distant Galaxies With Balloon-Borne Telescope." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050615061421.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Geminids Meteor Shower Lights Up Skies in China

Geminids Meteor Shower Lights Up Skies in China

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) The Geminids meteor shower lights up the skies over the Changbai Mountains in northeast China. Duration: 01:03 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins