Things look to be on track for NASA’s BETTII mission. BETTII or more properly, Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometry. The mission is being put together seven student interns working with Dr. Stephen Rinehart, associate chief of the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Fhight Center in Greenbelt,MD.
The students (including a high school student) are doing a great job.
The plan is to put two small telescope above all but the faintest traces of atmosphere. The observations of the two telescopes will be combined to increase the viewing power to that of a very much larger telescope. The telescopic view needs to be distortion free as much as possible for the best possible observations. Since they will be lifted by a tether from a balloon they must be small
The small telescopes are each less than two feet wide (~9 to 10 cm), combined by a technique called spatial interferometry would equate to one large telescope with a diameter of (about) 65 feet! The thing would weigh more than 1,000 lbs (453 kg. A lot to ask from a balloon.
The balloon has a height of about 250 ft (76 m) and 290 ft (88 m) in diameter.
Balloon borne observations are certainly not new, but nowadays they’re getting it done. They are very complicated and quite exciting, I hope the interns get to be in on the launch when it happens. I know I’d jump at the chance.