NASA is launching an formidable new mission: To map the complete sky in an effort to perceive the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the Historical past of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023 and is deliberate to final for 2 years, surveying lots of of thousands and thousands of galaxies each near us and much away.
SPHEREx will use optical and near-infrared mild to survey the sky, capturing knowledge on over 300 million galaxies and the greater than 100 million stars inside our personal galaxy. Its major purpose is to study how our universe advanced and the way frequent the important components for all times are in planetary techniques in our galaxy. It can map the complete sky each six months to create a map in 96 shade bands, and might be looking for water and natural molecules like methanol or acetone in areas the place stars and being born and new planets are forming.
“This superb mission might be a treasure trove of distinctive knowledge for astronomers,” Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, mentioned in a assertion. “It can ship an unprecedented galactic map containing ‘fingerprints’ from the primary moments within the universe’s historical past. And we’ll have new clues to one of many best mysteries in science: What made the universe develop so shortly lower than a nanosecond after the large bang?”
An additional operate of SPHEREx might be to establish targets which will be studied in additional element by future missions such because the long-awaited James Webb Area Telescope, which would be the world’s strongest telescope when it launches — 100 instances as highly effective as Hubble.
The price of the SPHEREx challenge is a hefty $242 million, which doesn’t embody launch prices. However NASA is assured that the mission might be value it: “I’m actually enthusiastic about this new mission,” mentioned NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Not solely does it develop the US’ highly effective fleet of space-based missions devoted to uncovering the mysteries of the universe, it’s a important a part of a balanced science program that features missions of varied sizes.”