NASA plans to build an artificial star and send it into space. Here’s why – first post

An artificial star created by the Landolt mission will serve as a reference point. By comparing its known brightness with that of distant stars, scientists can create new, more accurate lists of star brightness. Image credit: NASA

NASA is launching an innovative mission to launch an artificial star into space to improve the accuracy of astronomical measurements.

Dubbed Landolt, the mission involves a device the size of a toaster equipped with eight lasers. Its primary function is to simulate light from other celestial bodies such as stars and supernovae by directing laser beams at instruments on Earth.

The $19.5 million Landolt mission is helping scientists achieve more accurate measurements of real stars. Researchers hope the data collected could contribute to the study of dark energy, the mysterious force thought to be driving the rapid expansion of the universe.

David Ciardi, deputy director of NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute and an astronomer at Caltech, emphasized the importance of the mission. He explained that current instruments can only measure stars’ true brightness to within a few percent. The Landolt mission aims to improve this accuracy by a factor of ten, which will improve our understanding of stars and the planets that orbit them.

Accurate measurements of stellar brightness are critical to a better understanding of these distant worlds and their potential to support life.

The mission is named after the late astronomer Arlo Landolt, known for his detailed catalogs of stellar brightnesses, which have been a cornerstone of astronomy since 1973.

Daniel Huber, associate astronomer and professor at the University of Hawaii, highlighted Landolt’s lasting impact on the astronomical community.

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An artificial star created by the Landolt mission will serve as a reference point. By comparing its known brightness with that of distant stars, scientists can create new, more accurate lists of star brightness. Although the artificial star is invisible to the naked eye, it can be observed through a telescope.

In addition to improving stellar measurements, the Landolt mission also aims to improve our understanding of the expansion of the universe. By studying the brightness of distant stars, researchers hope to gain insights into one of the most important mysteries in astronomy today: dark energy.

The spacecraft carrying the artificial star is scheduled to launch in 2029. It orbits the Earth at an altitude of 22,236 miles, allowing it to remain stationary at a point on the planet’s surface.

Jamie Thayer, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Florida and a member of the mission team, emphasized the fundamental importance of the mission. S

The goal, he noted, was to determine whether other planets orbiting other stars could have conditions suitable for life, such as oceans. For each star, it is necessary to know how much energy it emits and the exact distance of the planet from the star.

By providing precise measurements of interstellar brightness, the Landolt mission will contribute to our understanding of the conditions necessary for life on other planets. This groundbreaking endeavor represents a significant step forward in our quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe.

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