NASA’s GUSTO project that stands for ‘Galactic /
Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory’ is a balloon telescope set
to launch from the Antarctic McMurdo Station. The device been put together to collect data that will be
used to understand the formation of stars and planets, as well as generate a 3D
map of a dwarf galaxy near the Milky Way.
The job of the telescope is to specifically detecting signals of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen in the interstellar medium – information that will ultimately help NASA scientists acquire valuable understandings of the formation of stars and planets. More precisely, it will likely help resolve the most important question from heliophysicists and astrophysicists: what makes space particles come together to make up the molecular clouds that are formed prior to stars?
Speaking about the telescope’s mechanism, Chris Walker, investigative
lead for the project, says that GUSTO has been designed such that it is capable
of picking up the terahertz frequencies that the atoms and molecules transmit. GUSTO’s
ability to do this is possible as a result of a radio system integrated within it
that will alert NASA with sounds hinting at the presence of the particles.
Planned to launch on December 21st, the experiment
will continue over a period of 55 days. During this course, the telescope will
float on a high-altitude balloon, as it absorbs high-frequency radio waves penetrating
through the cosmic space between stars. GUSTO will be guided in circles in
the South Pole’s atmospheric anticyclone during the course of the operation.