The Hubble Space Telescope has provided a huge amount of data, but putting it into orbit and maintaining it is expensive. The SuperBIT telescope is an intriguing alternative being created by American and Canadian scientists. Unlike the Hubble, it does not require a propellant rocket to launch. Scientists plan to deliver it to the stratosphere in a balloon. At the same time, the new telescope will not be inferior to the Hubble in terms of image quality, according to the press service of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).
According to the plans of the SuperBIT developers, the telescope should go on its first long-term flight in April 2022. NASA’s helium balloon is supposed to lift it to a height of 40 km. The telescope will operate there for several months. During this time, scientists plan to observe the collisions of clusters of galaxies.
After that, scientists will develop a new version of the telescope, and this time the diameter of the mirror will be three times larger. It is planned to be equipped with a new set of lenses, light-sensitive matrices and other optical and electronic components. Thanks to this, the new version of SuperBIT will even surpass Hubble in the sensitivity and clarity of the images.
SuperBIT is an acronym for Superpressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope. It is being developed in collaboration between the University of Toronto, Princeton University, British Durham University, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. With a budget of $ 5 million for construction and operation, it is said to cost roughly one thousandth the cost of a satellite with similar equipment.