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Post at: May 24 2022

NASA's SPHEREx Mission

Why in News?

  • In February 2022, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) selected Space Exploration Technologies (Space X) for the launch of its SPHERE Mission.

What is NASA's SPHEREx Mission?

  • NASA's Spectro - photometer for the history of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) is a planned two - year astrophysics mission. 
  • That aims to survey the sky in the near - infrared light to study the birth of the Universe, gather data on more than 300 million galaxies as well as more than 100 million stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
  • It will search for water and organic molecules for life. The mission will search for the essentials for life in stellar nurseries, that are the regions where stars are born from gas and dust and disks around the stars where new planets could be forming.

Management of SPHEREx Mission

  • The Explorer's Program at the US space agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland is leading the space mission that is aimed at getting answers to cosmic questions.
  • The SpaceX launch service will be managed by NASA's Launch Service Program at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
  • The overall project management, systems engineering, integration and testing and mission operation will be monitored by NASA's test Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Funding of the SPHEREx mission

  • The Astrophysics Division of Nasa's Science Mission Directorate at the headquarters in Washington is funding the mission.
  • The cost for the space agency to launch SPHEREx is estimated around $98.8 million incluyding the launch services and other related costs.

Launch of SPEREx Mission

  • The mission is targeted to launch as early as in June 2024 on a SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SPHEREx over sky-survey telescopes

  • The SPHEREx mission has an edge over sky-survey telescope.
  • Sky-survey telescopes like the Vera Rubin Observatory can capture most of the sky but wont be useful for infrared astronomy.
  • The Vera Rubin Observatory will capture most of the southern sky over every few days but it's only useful for visible light astronomy whereas SPHEREx will be an infrared instrument.


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