Telescope to solve the mysteries of the past will be launched in 2025

NASA is preparing to launch the SPHEREX telescope into space. It would help solve the mysteries of what the universe was like at the beginning of its existence and how water got into the Solar System. The start of the mission is scheduled for 2025.

SPHEREX Space Telescope. Source: Wikipedia

What SPHEREX will tell us about

NASA scientists are preparing to launch the SPHEREX space telescope. Its name is an abbreviation of “Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer” and its task fully corresponds to the name. 

SPHEREX is a very small spacecraft that will work in the infrared part of the spectrum and it cannot even be compared with James Webb. However, it will have an extremely wide field of view and thanks to this it will be able to view the entire sky. The telescope will not only determine the position of hundreds of millions of stars and galaxies, but also decompose the light of each into a spectrum and determine the intensity of radiation at different wavelengths.

Thanks to this, researchers expect to find out the answers to some riddles about the past of the Universe. In particular, they want to learn more about the evolution of the large-scale structure of the Universe and what happened in the first moments after its formation. 

In addition, scientists expect to learn more about the era of Reionization. It occurred several hundred million years after the Big Bang. Then the first stars flared up and their radiation ionized the interstellar gas, making the Universe transparent. 

In addition, scientists expect to learn more about icy objects that lurk on the outskirts of our Solar System. They expect to find out the details of how the water got there at the very beginning of its existence. 

Pre-launch testing

The launch of SPHEREX should take place in 2025. In the meantime, engineers are conducting the necessary tests of its systems. In total, scientists from 10 organizations in the USA and South Korea will work with it, but now the California Institute of Technology is mainly engaged in it.

The main thing that scientists want to check is the sensitivity of the telescope to infrared waves. To this end, they placed it in a special chamber; it was developed with the help of colleagues from South Korea. SPHEREX is cooled to a temperature below -200 °C. It is under such conditions that it will work in space.

To check if SPHEREX is in focus, the team uses a collimator, essentially a telescope working in the opposite direction to point an artificial star at the camera and at the detectors. The camera was designed with a gold-coated sapphire window that allows the team to project an artificial star into the camera, protecting it from heat coming from outside.

In addition, from time to time, the telescope is taken to the jet propulsion laboratory. There it is tested for vibration, which simulates the load at the launch of the rocket. When these tests are completed, work will begin on connecting SPHEREX to the spacecraft.

According to

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