NASA SHIELDS Mission: To Study Interstellar Space
NASA recently launched the SHIELDS Mission from the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The Mission is to study light from interstellar particles in the heliosphere.
What is SHIELDS?
SHIELDS is Spatial Heterodyne Interferometric Emission Line Dynamics Spectrometer. It will fly to a height of 300 kilo metres. At this height SHIELDS can see light from particles beyond the solar system.
The planets, gas, asteroids and every single matter in the neighbourhood of the earth is located in a cluster of gas called Local Bubble. This bubble is 300 light years long. It encompasses hundreds of stars including the sun. According to the scientists, the solar system is to move out of the Local Bubble in 50,000 years. Till date, research has led only to learn an outline about Local bubble. This mission will help to learn what exactly is happening inside them.
Heliosphere in the Local Bubble
The magnetic bubble created by the sun is called Heliosphere. The heliosphere moves through the Local Bubble at 52,000 miles per hour. Particles from interstellar space fall on the heliosphere.
What will SHIELDS Study?
- SHIELDS will study about the hydrogen atoms that originate in interstellar space. These atoms have equal balances of fundamental particles called electrons and protons. These interstellar hydrogen atoms cross the magnetic lines as their positive and negative charges balance each other.
- The mission will study the trajectories of the hydrogen atoms as they pass by the heliosphere.
- SHIELDS will seek out light from the hydrogen atoms. It will measure how far the wavelength of these atoms stretches or contracts.
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