NASA has picked a potential $40 million science mission that aims to measure emissions from the cosmic material ““ interstellar medium – that can be found among stars in order to generate data for use in research into the Milky Way galaxy.
The Galactic/Extragalactic [Ultralong-Duration Balloon] Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory mission seeks to offer a “complete study of all phases of the stellar life cycle, from the formation of molecular clouds, through star birth and evolution, to the formation of gas clouds and the re-initiation of the cycle,” Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA's science mission directorate, said in a statement released Friday.
Christopher Walker, principal investigator from the University of Arizona, will lead the GUSTO mission that seeks to fly the ULDB system with a telescope equipped with detectors designed to measure oxygen, carbon and nitrogen emissions.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory will provide the ULDB platform and mission operations, while the telescope and other equipment for the mission will come from the University of Arizona in Tucson.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MIT, SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research and Arizona State University will provide the detector platforms.
NASA expects the mission to launch from McMurdo, Antarctica, by 2021 and continue to operate in the air for up to 170 days.
The agency selected the GUSTO mission out of eight proposals submitted in September 2014 under the Astrophysics Explorers Program that has launched at least 90 missions since 1958.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland oversees the Astrophysics Explorers Program for the science mission directorate.