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Caltech and NASA to Launch UVEX to Survey Ultraviolet Light

Caltech
Credit: Caltech

Ibadan, 16 February 2024. – The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are conducting a new mission to survey ultraviolet light across the entire sky and consequently offer more insight into how galaxies and stars evolve. NASA will launch the UVEX (UltraViolet EXplorer) space telescope tentatively in 2030 as its next Astrophysics Medium-Class Explorer mission to facilitate the mission.

Caltech’s Fiona Harrison will be leading the mission as principal investigator, and her team will use the UVEX space telescope to quickly point toward sources of ultraviolet light in the universe. This will enable UVEX to capture the explosions that follow bursts of gravitational waves caused by merging neutron stars. The telescope will also carry an ultraviolet spectrograph to study stellar explosions and massive stars.

The telescope’s ultraviolet survey will also complement data from other missions conducting wide surveys in this decade, including the Euclid mission led by ESA (European Space Agency) with NASA contributions and NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, set to launch by May 2027. Together, these missions will help create a modern, multi-wavelength map of our universe.

Speaking about leading the mission, Harrison said, “I feel privileged to lead the amazing team that will execute the UVEX mission and its exciting scientific program. UVEX is a true Explorer mission that will answer questions we can pose today and open vast discovery space for the future.”

Likewise, Nicola Fox, associate administrator Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said, “This mission will bring key capabilities in near-and far-ultraviolet light to our fleet of space telescopes, delivering a wealth of survey data that will open new avenues in exploring the secrets of the cosmos.”

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