AKIPRESS.COM - NASA has announced a two-year space mission to study the beginnings and evolution of the universe and determine how common the ingredients for life are within the planetary systems in our galaxy, the Milky Way, CNN reports.
The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, nicknamed SPHEREx, is expected to launch in 2023 and has been funded at $242 million - not including launch costs.
"This amazing mission will be a treasure trove of unique data for astronomers," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "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?"
SPHEREx will use near-infrared light, as well as optical, to survey the sky every six months and collect data from more than 100 million stars in the Milky Way, as well as 300 million galaxies. These are galaxies in our cosmic neighborhood along with some that are so distant, it's taken 10 billion years for their light to reach our telescopes.
The technology used to create SPHEREx has been adapted from what is used on our satellites and Mars spacecraft, NASA said in a statement.