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SuperBIT: THIS Low-cost 'floating Telescope' Might Replace NASA's Aged Hubble

While NASA’s Hubble Telescope is back after spending at least a month out of action, the SuperBIT Project’s helium telescope might be the next big thing.


IMAGE: Twitter

While NASA’s Hubble Telescope is back after spending at least a month out of action due to the failure of its payload computer, SuperBIT Project’s helium telescope might be the next big thing in the world of astronomy and can compete with Hubble. For several years, NASA’s Hubble has been credited for capturing stunning images of space but the Superpressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope, also known as SuperBIT will fly in the sky 40 kilometres above the sea level and will provide “insight into the distribution of dark matter in galaxy clusters and universe", according to Department of Physics of University of Toronto's website.

All about SuperBIT telescope

The SuperBIT telescope is developed by a team of scientists from the University of Toronto, Princeton University, and Durham University in England along with NASA as well as the Canadian Space Agency. The official website of the University of Toronto described the telescope as a “highly-stabilized, high-resolution telescope that operates in the stratosphere via NASA's super-pressure balloon (SPB) system.”

SuperBIT is a 0.5m, wide-field, and diffraction-limited balloon-borne telescope which is carried to the required altitude of 40 km above sea level by a helium balloon with a volume of 532,000 cubic meters, about the size of a football stadium. It operates in the stratosphere in a bid to achieve space-like operating conditions as well as performance. The optical sensitivity of the telescope is from near-infrared (900nm) to near-ultraviolet (300 nm).

The official website also stated, “SuperBIT aims to make precise weak gravitational lensing measurements of galaxy clusters in order to infer the presence and relative quantity of dark matter in these clusters as well as the large scale structure of the universe.”

Presently, SuperBIT is undergoing preparations for its fully operational science flight which is set to launch from Wanaka, New Zealand in March 2022. As per the official statement, the SuperBIT will be launching and maintaining its operations at an altitude of around 40 km above sea level through the United States space agency’s super-pressure balloon (SPB) system. The creators have noted that the benefit of the relatively novel SPB system over conventional zero-pressure balloon systems is that the stratospheric operations can be supported through diurnal cycles for more than 30 days, enabling SuperBIT to collect the images and data necessary to meet weak lensing science requirements.

IMAGE: Twitter