NASA will continue to remain active even in 2021 for its space exploration purposes. The space agency announced on January 7 that it’s preparing three miniaturized satellite missions and the first mission from the Astrophysics Pioneers program: the one involving a high-altitude balloon.
Space News brings us the wonderful news, and we can optimistically look forward to NASA’s upcoming plans for the near future. Besides the miniaturized satellites and the balloons, International Space Station payloads are also included in NASA’s plans.
There’s much more to learn about the Universe
Although scientists made tremendous progress during the last decades in understanding plenty of mechanisms that make the Universe work, there’s still a lot more to learn. Thomas Zurbuchen, a NASA associate administrator for science, confirms it by declaring:
Each of the proposed experiments would do something no other NASA telescope or mission can do, filling important gaps in our understanding of the universe as a whole.
Zurbuchen also praised the scientists proposing the new missions, saying that they applied “innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to the problem of how to do high-impact astrophysics experiments on a small budget.”
One of the selected miniaturized satellites is called Aspera, and it aims to study the evolution of galaxies by observing hot gas at ultraviolet wavelengths. Pandora is another miniaturized satellite, and it will be observing 20 stars that are hosting exoplanets at visible and infrared wavelengths. As for the third satellite, it’s called StarBurst, and it will be detecting gamma rays emerging from neutron star mergers.
Let’s not also forget about the Payload for Ultrahigh Energy Observations (PUEO), the balloon-borne instrument that has the mission of measuring ultrahigh energy neutrinos from the creation of black holes and neutron star mergers.
2021 will be a majestic year for astrophysics, and we can’t wait for the full confirmation.