Nasa's SPHEREx spacecraft to scan entire sky to create cosmic map

SPHEREx will scan over 99 per cent of the sky every six months. PHOTO: JPL.NASA.GOV
The SPHEREx mission will have some similarities with the James Webb Space Telescope. PHOTO: JPL.NASA.GOV

LOS ANGELES (XINHUA) - Nasa's upcoming SPHEREx mission will be able to scan the entire sky every six months and create a map of the cosmos unlike any before, according to a plan the agency unveiled on Thursday (March 24).

Scheduled to launch no later than April 2025, the SPHEREx mission will probe what happened within the first second after the big bang, how galaxies form and evolve, and the prevalence of molecules critical to the formation of life, according to Nasa.

To answer big questions about the universe, scientists need to look at the sky in different ways. Many telescopes, like Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope, are built to focus on individual stars, galaxies, or other cosmic objects, and to study them in detail.

But SPHEREx, which stands for Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionisation and Ices Explorer, belongs to another class of space telescopes that quickly observe large portions of the sky, surveying many objects in a short period of time, said Nasa.

SPHEREx will scan over 99 per cent of the sky every six months. By contrast, Hubble has observed about 0.1 per cent of the sky in more than 30 years of operations, according to Nasa.

The SPHEREx mission will have some similarities with the James Webb Space Telescope. But the two observatories will take dramatically different approaches to studying the sky, according to Nasa.

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