Two University of Arizona astronomers join new NASA mission

Mar 2, 2019, 4:10 AM
SPHEREx (Facebook photo/University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory)...
SPHEREx (Facebook photo/University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory)
(Facebook photo/University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory)

PHOENIX — Two University of Arizona astronomers will participate in a new space mission to better understand the origin of the universe.

The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx mission, will be a two-year mission set to launch in 2023, according to a UA press release.   

Elisabeth Krause, an assistant professor of astronomy and physics, and Tim Eifler, assistant professor of astronomy, will be a part of the $242 million program.

SPHEREx will survey galaxies in search of the essential ingredients for life and study the universe’s earliest moments after the big bang.

The mission will use a space telescope that will collect individual components of light for more than 300 million galaxies.

SPHEREx will use this information to examine the origin and history of galaxy formation.

Krause’s role on the mission will be to use SPHEREx to better understand the physics behind the period of time leading up to the big bang. Eifler will combine the data collected from the mission.

“This amazing mission will be a treasure trove of unique data for astronomers,” associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said in the release.

“It will deliver an unprecedented galactic map containing ‘fingerprints’ from the first moments in the universe’s history. And we’ll have new clues to one of the greatest mysteries in science: What made the universe expand so quickly less than a nanosecond after the big bang?”

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Two University of Arizona astronomers join new NASA mission