SETI FUSE SPACECRAFT WILL SEARCH FOR 'FOSSILS' OF THE BIG BANG


Larry Klaes (lklaes@bbn.com)
Tue, 08 Jun 1999 13:19:23 -0400


>Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 13:00:11 -0400 (EDT) >From: NASANews@hq.nasa.gov >Subject: FUSE SPACECRAFT WILL SEARCH FOR 'FOSSILS' OF THE BIG BANG >Sender: owner-press-release@lists.hq.nasa.gov >To: undisclosed-recipients:; > >Donald Savage >Headquarters, Washington, DC June 8, 1999 >(Phone: 202/358-1547) > >Donna Drelick >Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD >(Phone: 301/286-8955) > >Gary Dorsey >Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD >(Phone: 410/516-7160) > >RELEASE: 99-68 > >FUSE SPACECRAFT WILL SEARCH FOR 'FOSSILS' OF THE BIG BANG > > Scientists will soon have a new tool to search for the >"fossil record" of the Big Bang and uncover clues about the >evolution of the universe. Scheduled to launch June 23, NASA's Far >Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) will observe nearby >planets and the farthest reaches of the universe and will provide >a detailed picture of the immense structure of our own Milky Way >galaxy. > > The FUSE mission's primary scientific focus will be the study >of hydrogen and deuterium (a different form of hydrogen), which >were created shortly after the Big Bang. With this information, >astronomers in effect will be able to look back in time at the >infant universe. > > By examining these earliest relics of the birth of the >universe, astronomers hope to better understand the processes that >led to the formation and evolution of stars, including our solar >system. Ultimately, scientists hope data from FUSE will allow >them to make a huge leap of understanding about how the primordial >elements were created and have been distributed since the >beginning of time. > > "We think that as stars age deuterium is destroyed," said >NASA's Dr. George Sonneborn, Goddard Space Flight Center, >Greenbelt, MD, the FUSE project scientist. "Mapping deuterium >throughout the Milky Way will give us a better understanding of >how elements are mixed, distributed and destroyed." > > "The big questions are these: Do we understand the origins of >the universe, and do we understand how galaxies evolve?" said Dr. >Kenneth Sembach, a FUSE science team member from the Johns Hopkins >University, Baltimore, MD. "Because FUSE can observe ultraviolet >light that other telescopes can't, we can test in unique ways how >deuterium and other elements are circulated within galaxies. That >in turn may test the limits of the Big Bang theory." > > Among the cosmic questions FUSE will tackle are: > -- What were conditions like in the first few minutes after >the Big Bang? Will studying the "fossil remnant" deuterium change >current theories of the Big Bang? > -- How are the elements dispersed throughout galaxies, and >how does this affect the way galaxies evolve? > -- What are the properties of the interstellar gas clouds out >of which stars and planets form? > -- Does the Milky Way have a vast galactic fountain that >gives birth to stars, spews hot gas, circulates elements and >churns out cosmic material over and over? > > FUSE was developed for NASA by Johns Hopkins, which has the >primary responsibility for all aspects of the project. NASA is >responsible for the launch. FUSE is the first NASA mission of >this scope that has been developed and operated entirely by a >university. Dr. Warren Moos, Professor of Physics and Astronomy >at Johns Hopkins, is Principal Investigator for FUSE. > > The 3,000-pound FUSE satellite consists of two sections: the >spacecraft and the science instrument. The spacecraft, built by >Orbital Sciences Corp., Germantown, MD, contains all elements >necessary for powering and pointing the satellite. The spacecraft >and the science instrument each have their own computers, which >coordinate the activities of the satellite. > > The FUSE science instrument, built by Johns Hopkins, consists >of telescope mirrors, a spectrograph, which breaks ultraviolet >light into its component colors for study, and an electronic guide >camera. Johns Hopkins built the FUSE instrument in collaboration >with the Canadian Space Agency, which provided the camera; the >French Space Agency, which provided a component of the >spectrograph; the University of Colorado, Boulder; the University >of California, Berkeley; and Swales Aerospace, Beltsville, MD. >The FUSE mission and science control center is located on the >Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus, Baltimore, with support from >Interface and Controls Systems and AlliedSignal Technical Services >Corp., both of Columbia, MD. > > FUSE will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Station, FL, >aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket into a circular orbit 477 miles >(768 kilometers) above Earth, and will orbit about every 100 >minutes. The satellite must operate on its own most of the time, >moving from target to target, identifying star fields, centering >objects in the spectrograph apertures and performing the >observations. The three-year FUSE mission costs $204 million. > > The Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD manages FUSE, >one of the first missions in NASA's Origins program, for NASA's >Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. > > Information on the FUSE mission and NASA's Origins program >can be found at: > > http://fuse.pha.jhu.edu > > http://fusewww.gsfc.nasa.gov/fuse/ > > http://origins.jpl.nasa.gov/ > > - end - > > * * * > >NASA press releases and other information are available automatically >by sending an Internet electronic mail message to >by sending an Internet electronic mail message to domo@hq.nasa.gov. >In the body of the message (not the subject line) users should type >the words "subscribe press-release" (no quotes). The system will >reply with a confirmation via E-mail of each subscription. A second >automatic message will include additional information on the service. >NASA releases also are available via CompuServe using the command >GO NASA. To unsubscribe from this mailing list, address an E-mail >message to domo@hq.nasa.gov, leave the subject blank, and type only >"unsubscribe press-release" (no quotes) in the body of the message. > > >



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