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Enormous Balloon Could Help Astronomers get a Clear View of Space

PhD Student Mohamed Shaaban is one of the researchers involved in the superBIT project

A balloon the size of a football stadium could help astronomers get crystal-clear shots of space for a fraction of the cost of an orbital telescope like Hubble.

The secret weapon behind the SuperBIT project is a simple helium balloon – albeit one that floats up to 25 miles (40km) above the surface of the Earth and expands to a football-stadium size when fully inflated.

Developed by a consortium of researchers from the UK, US and Canada, SuperBIT (the Superpressure balloon-borne imaging telescope) is an attempt to combine the best of both worlds of orbiting and earth-bound astronomy.

Conventional ground-based telescopes have to deal with the fact that the atmosphere is very good at sustaining all human life, but annoyingly bad at letting through light from space without distorting it, making it hard to take clear pictures of astronomical objects. Orbital telescopes, like the Hubble space telescope, avoid that problem, but cost billions of dollars to assemble, launch and operate.

Read the full story in the Guardian here:

Read the story in the Time of India here:

Read the story in the BBC newsround here: