The reply to a few of life’s most fascinating questions may finally be answered with assist from a NASA mission that George Mason University has been tapped to guide.

Peter Plavchan, Associate Professor and Observatory Director,
College of Science. Photo by: Ron Aira/Creative Services/ George Mason University(Courtesy Ron Aira/Office of University Branding)

The reply to a few of life’s most fascinating questions may finally be answered with assist from a NASA mission that George Mason University has been tapped to guide.

The Fairfax County, Virginia, faculty will construct and launch an “synthetic star” into orbit. The small satellite tv for pc will likely be geared up with photo voltaic panels and a set of lasers that astronomers will be capable to see from telescopes on the bottom.

“We’ll have gadgets on the spacecraft, watching how a lot mild these lasers put out. And then we’ll see how a lot that mild reaches our telescopes. We’ll be capable to measure to a degree that’s by no means been measured earlier than, how vivid the issues are that we’re trying within the sky subsequent to it,” GMU affiliate professor of physics and astronomy Peter Plavchan stated.

Plavchan is serving because the principal investigator for the $19.5 million Landolt NASA Space Mission. Using the sunshine the mission goals to offer, scientists will be capable to calibrate telescopes to extra precisely measure the brightness of stars.

So why does that matter? Plavchan stated it’ll advance analysis in varied areas and will even assist result in the invention of one other liveable planet. More than 5,000 planets that orbit a star have been found over the previous 30 years.

“We’re looking for Earth 2.0. We need to discover the ‘Goldilocks planet’ — the planet that’s not too sizzling, not too chilly, simply the best dimension and mass that if it had liquid floor water and an environment, it may assist life as we all know it, like we’ve right here on the Earth. Well, if we need to know whether or not or not that planet’s too sizzling or too chilly, too massive or too small, we have to know exactly how a lot mild that star is placing out,” he stated.

The synthetic star gained’t be seen to the bare eye. It will likely be positioned 22,236 miles above Earth in order that it goes across the Earth as soon as a day and can all the time be in the identical a part of the sky.

The spacecraft’s payload is simply across the dimension of a shoe field and is scheduled to enter orbit in 2029.

“This is an extremely thrilling alternative for George Mason and our college students,” affiliate professor Piotr Pachowicz stated in a information launch. “Our staff will design, construct, and combine the payload, which — as a result of it’s going very excessive into geostationary orbit — should deal with unimaginable challenges.”

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.

Get breaking information and day by day headlines delivered to your e-mail inbox by signing up right here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This web site is just not meant for customers positioned throughout the European Economic Area.