APN News

  • Sat Apr 21 2018 01:45:42 GMT+0200 (CEST)
  • NASA's 'SuperTIGER' balloon to study cosmic particles

    2017-12-08 12:50:19.0
    Nanditha

    The instrument, called the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER), is designed to ...

    NASAs SuperTIGER balloon to study cosmic particles

    The instrument, called the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER), is designed to study rare heavy nuclei, which hold clues about where and how cosmic rays attain speeds up to nearly the speed of light.

    NASA scientists in Antarctica are set to launch a balloon-borne instrument to collect information on cosmic rays, high-energy particles from beyond the solar system that enters Earth's atmosphere every day. The instrument, called the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER), is designed to study rare heavy nuclei, which hold clues about where and how cosmic rays attain speeds up to nearly the speed of light. It will be launched on December 10. In 2013, the SuperTIGER had broken flight duration records while flying over Antarctica.

    "The previous flight of SuperTIGER lasted 55 days, setting a record for the longest flight of any heavy-lift scientific balloon," said Robert Binns, the principal investigator at Washington University in the US, which leads the mission. "The time aloft translated into a long exposure, which is important because the particles we're after make up only a tiny fraction of cosmic rays," said Binns.

    The most common cosmic ray particles are protons or hydrogen nuclei, making up roughly 90 percent, followed by helium nuclei (eight percent) and electrons. The remainder contains the nuclei of other elements, with dwindling numbers of heavy nuclei as their mass rises. With SuperTIGER, researchers are looking for the rarest of the rare - so-called ultra-heavy cosmic ray nuclei beyond iron, from cobalt to barium.

    "Heavy elements, like the gold in your jewelry, are produced through special processes in stars, and SuperTIGER aims to help us understand how and where this happens," said John Mitchell at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in the US. "We're all stardust, but figuring out where and how this stardust is made helps us better understand our galaxy and our place in it," said Mitchell.

    All Right Reserved