NASA has just revealed the launch of a space telescope believed to be able to find clues to the Big Bang and discover signs of extraterrestrial life. The American space agency aims for the project to shed light on the mystery surrounding the birth of the universe.
The deployment of this new instrument is expected to take place between June 2024 and April 2025. The design plans have already been approved by the agency's experts.
SphereX (for Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer ) is an infrared space telescope equipped with a spectrophotometer. It is able to collect data on over 300 million galaxies as well as over 100 million stars in the Milky Way.
This telescope should be the first to establish a spectroscopic map of the universe. It would be equipped with an instrument capable of detecting infrared light invisible to the human eye. Its cost is estimated at around $ 242 million.
A tool that will map the entire sky
In just two years, SphereX will map the entire sky four times and create a map in 96 bands of different colors. It will provide a huge database of stars, galaxies and many other celestial objects. The information gathered will help researchers determine the nature of these objects and their distance from Earth.
Overall, the goal would be to know what happened during the second after the Big Bang . Scientists believe that during this moment space has grown very rapidly. This hypothetical process, called "inflation", would have influenced the distribution of matter in the cosmos.
SphereX will thus analyze the faint glows created by galaxies. The data obtained would make it possible to learn more about the mechanisms that led to the formation of structures since the first stars. However, the most important thing would be to find ices of water and frozen organic molecules around the new stars of our Milky Way. These elements can be clues to a life form that exists beyond Earth.
“With SphereX, it's like going from black and white images to color images. "
Allen Farrington, SphereX project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California
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A time when galaxies were close together
The Big Bang Theory is the cosmological model used by the scientific community to describe the beginning and evolution of our universe.
According to this theory, the universe was very hot and very dense before it started to expand. Which means that the galaxies would have been particularly close to each other 13.7 billion years ago. In 1920, the Hubble telescope had made it possible to notice that the distance between galaxies continues to increase everywhere in the universe.
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However, so far, this model remains hypothetical and several elements are still missing from the puzzle. SphereX should therefore tell us more.