NASA has chosen to investigate more smallsat and balloon mission concepts for exploring the cosmos, and this time the goals are particularly ambitious. The first smallsat, Aspera, will study galaxy evolution by monitoring the ultraviolet light from hot gas in the space between those galaxies. Pandora will try to separate the signals of 20 stars and their 39 exoplanets by looking at them through infrared and visible light. StarBurst, meanwhile, will look for gamma rays from events like neutron star mergers and gravitational waves.
There’s only one balloon mission concept, but it could be particularly important. PUEO would launch from the Antarctic and detect the signals from ultra-high energy neutrinos. It should be the “most sensitive” neutrino survey of its kind to date, NASA said.