A Football Stadium Balloon to carry a big Telescope

NASA to build a football stadium balloon to carry a cutting-edge 8.4-foot telescope, high into the stratosphere, 24 miles above Antarctica.

Carried by a balloon the size of a football stadium, ASTHROS will use a telescope to observe wavelengths of light that aren’t visible from the ground.



Work has begun on ASTHROS (short for Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths), a new mission that will carry a cutting-edge 8.4-foot telescope high into the stratosphere on a balloon that is tentatively planned to launch in December 2023 from Antarctica.

The above illustration shows a high-altitude balloon ascending into the upper atmosphere. When fully inflated, these balloons are 400 feet (150 meters) wide, or about the size of a football stadium, and reach an altitude of 130,000 feet (24.6 miles or 40 kilometers).

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab/Michael Lentz

Editor: Yvette Smith