Investigating what happened the first second after the Big Bang will be one of the challenges of the SPHEREx space telescope, an acronym for Spectrophotometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ice Explorer. With this, NASA will be able to scan the entire sky every six months and create a particular map of the cosmos.
The mission will serve from 2025 to also learn how galaxies form and evolve, and to search for molecules essential for the formation of life, such as water, locked up in the form of ice in the galaxy. For such purposes, the US space agency requires state-of-the-art technology, the details of which have just been approved.
Allen Farrington, SPHEREx project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said “we are in the transition from doing things with computer models to doing things with real hardware.”
“The design of the ship, as it is, is confirmed. We have shown that it is feasible down to the smallest detail. Now we can really start building and putting things together, ”she celebrated in a Press release.
NASA indicated that to answer the big questions about the universe, scientists need to look at the sky in many ways. Just as equipment like NASA’s Hubble is built to focus on individual stars, galaxies, or other cosmic objects and study them in detail, SPHEREx answers to another class of space telescopes. In your case, you will observe large portions of the sky and many objects in short periods.
“SPHEREx will scan more than 99 percent of the sky every six months, unlike Hubble, which has observed around 0.1 percent in more than 30 years of operations. Although survey telescopes like SPHEREx cannot see objects in the same level of detail as guided observatories, they can answer questions about the typical properties of those objects throughout the universe.
With SPHEREx, he added, scientists will measure the prevalence of life-supporting materials that reside in the icy dust grains of galactic clouds, from which new stars and their planetary systems are born. In fact, astronomers believe that the water in the oceans originally came from this interstellar material.
“It’s the difference between knowing a few individual people and taking a census and learning about the population as a whole. Both types of studies are important and complement each other. But there are some questions that can only be answered through that census,” said SPHEREx project deputy director Beth Fabinsky.