SuperBIT: an inexpensive telescope capable of competing with Hubble

SuperBIT: an inexpensive telescope capable of competing with Hubble

It is expected that a unique telescope will be launched from New Zealand in April 2022, and the SuperBIT instrument will be suspended on a helium balloon in the Earth ' s stratosphere and will receive high-resolution images that do not deviate from Hubble ' s images.

Super-pressure balloons

The universities of Darham, Toronto and Princeton have recently joined forces with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency to develop a new type of astronomical telescope called SuperBIT, which will fly at an altitude of about 40 km, above 99.5% of the Earth's atmosphere, on a huge helium ball of 532,000 cubic metres.

His last test flight in September 2019 demonstrated the extreme stability of guidance, with a deviation of less than 36,000 degrees over an hour, which should allow this telescope to obtain the same clear images as the Hubble Space Telescope in optical and ultraviolet ranges.

This type of design has been introduced in the past, but the life expectancy of balloons has always impeded their development, where NASA and its partners explain that they have developed balloons that can hold helium for several months.

The telescope's debut will take place in April 2022 from Wanaki, New Zealand, which will be transported by stable seasonal winds, and will overtake the Earth several times, creating an image of the night sky, and will be busy charging its batteries with solar panels during the day.

With an estimated construction and maintenance budget of about $5 million, SuperBIT costs almost a thousand times less than a similar instrument, and this approach is not only cheaper, but also the ability to get the telescope to Earth and then restart it will allow researchers to develop new advanced tools as technology evolves.

"," says Mohamed Shaaban of Toronto University. "

The team behind the project already has additional funding to develop a project to upgrade the telescope from an aperture of 0.5 m to 1.5 m. Ultimately, the ability to collect more light in combination with wider-angle lenses will make the tool even more powerful than the Hubble.

The purpose of the flight, scheduled for April 2022, will be to measure the properties of dark matter particles, which are about 27% of the total energy density of the observed universe, for which astronomers will be responsible for showing how this invisible matter bends the light beams. This is called the gravitational lens effect.