A team of researchers from Princeton University, the University of Toronto and Durham University in England with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have designed a new telescope called the Superpressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope, or SuperBIT.
Besides Jones, his team includes Research Scholars Steven Benton and Aurelien Fraisse, along with graduate students Susan Redmond in mechanical and aerospace engineering and Thuy Vy Luu and Steven Li, both in physics.
With a price tag of about $5 million, SuperBIT costs roughly 1,000 times less than similar satellites. The balloon-borne telescope is an attractive low-cost alternative to space-based telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope, which is nearing the end of its life. Although Hubble remains productive, its unique capabilities are in high demand. SuperBit’s capabilities will give researchers expanded access to the unique imaging capability possible only from space.
SuperBIT is the beginning of a much more ambitious observatory, GigaBIT, with a mirror three times as large. These projects are student-led, providing a unique training ground for the next generation of astrophysicists.