An artist's impression of the SPHEREx spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA is planning to launch a new near-infrared space observatory that will collect data on 300 million galaxies.
Known as SPHEREx (Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer), the new spacecraft has been awarded $242 million in funds and will launch in 2023.
Its goal will be to help scientists gain a better understanding of how the universe evolved over time and to determine how common the core ingredients of life are in our own galaxy.
"This amazing mission will be a treasure trove of unique data for astronomers," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
"It will deliver an unprecedented galactic map containing 'fingerprints' from the first moments in the universe's history. And we'll have new clues to one of the greatest mysteries in science: What made the universe expand so quickly less than a nanosecond after the big bang ?"