The goal is to look for evidence of something called inflation that was going to happen less than a billionth of a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. Evidence for this will be in how galaxies are located in the universe, and SPHEREx will help scientists map them in 3D with respect to each other. Then, they can study those maps of patterns likely to be caused by inflation. At the same time, the tool will help reveal how the first star galaxies formed.
The space telescope will also look at stars in our galaxy in search of water ice and frozen organic particles, which are the building blocks of life on Earth. The idea is that water ice is attached to dust grains in gas clouds around galaxies. Stars form inside those clouds, then planets form from the remaining material around them. “Ice can be grown in these planetary disks with water and other organic molecules,” NASA wrote. “In fact, it is likely that the water in Earth’s oceans began as interstellar ice.”
Prior to Phase C, the SPHEREx team had to complete an initial design review and demonstrate that they could really build it. The team will spend 29 months finalizing the design and construction components, before going into the next stage when they are assembled and tested. SPHEREx is scheduled to be launched in a window between June 2024 and April 2025, if everything goes as planned – which is Of course not.
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