Tuesday, April 23, 2024

SpaceX to launch NASA mission to study universe history

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One of NASA’s most important science missions now has a turn. The agency awarded SpaceX a contract to launch its SPHEREx astrophysics project. The mission won’t take off with a Falcon 9 rocket until June 2024 at the earliest, but it promises to be one of the most prestigious missions SpaceX will fly.

SPHEREx (Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, the Era of Reionization and Ices Explorer) is a two-year mission that should answer several basic questions. It will create a 3D map of near-infrared light that could provide evidence of cosmic inflation from a billionth of a second after the Big Bang, not to mention star formation in early galaxies. The mission will also search for water and organic molecules in stellar “nurseries” to determine how they could have sown the ingredients for life.

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