What will NASA’s ‘artificial star’ be used for? • ENTER.CO

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What will NASA’s ‘artificial star’ be used for?  • ENTER.CO

George Mason University and NASA will jointly build an artificial star and place it in orbit. The budget for the Landaut spaceflight is $19.5 million. What is objective?

The idea of ​​both companies is to emulate the behavior of real stars. That means it will allow scientists to calibrate telescopes and measure the brightness of stars with great precision, from very close to supernova explosions in distant galaxies.

“This work represents a significant milestone for George Mason University, underscoring our impact as a leading public research institution,” explained University President Gregory Washington.

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The program takes its name from astronomer Arlo Landalt, known for his catalogs of star brightness. The mission, scheduled for launch in 2029, will emit light from a source with a known photon emission rate, allowing scientists to compare this light to real stars and update star luminosity catalogs.

The ‘artificial star’ will orbit 22,236 miles from Earth, allowing it to remain stationary over the US during its first year in space.

Built in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the payload will have eight lasers to help calibrate ground-based optical telescopes. Although artificial stars are invisible to the naked eye, they can be seen with personal telescopes.

“This project focuses on measuring properties that are fundamental to everyday astronomy,” said NASA Goddard mission and instrument scientist Eliot Peretz.

“This will revolutionize how we measure and understand stellar properties, surface temperatures and the habitability of exoplanets,” he explained.

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The work will involve faculty and students from George Mason’s Colleges of Science and Engineering and Computing, working with NASA, NIST and nine other institutions. “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for our students,” said Peter Pachowicz, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Mason.

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With mission control based at George Mason’s Fairfax campus, the team includes collaborators such as Blue Canyon Technologies, the California Institute of Technology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Mississippi State University, the Montreal Planetarium and other institutions.

Through highly accurate measurements, experts can use the obtained data to improve the understanding of galactic evolution, habitable zones and nearby planets, as well as to refine the parameters of dark energy, paving the way for future significant scientific discoveries.

“When we observe a star through a telescope, we need to know precisely the rate of photons it emits,” explained Peter Blausson, principal investigator of the mission. “This work will allow us to measure that with an accuracy of 0.25 percent.”

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“Accurate responses require precise measurements and better instrument characterization,” concluded Susanna Duistua, a scientist with the NIST Remote Sensing Group. Landolt’s work promises to be an important tool in advancing astrophysics and our understanding of the universe.

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