The University of Chicago expands is long history of cosmic-ray research with its participation in the Extreme Universe Space Observatory, which is scheduled for deployment aboard the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station in 2017. Credit: JEM-EUSO


NASA supports Extreme Universe Space Observatory

March 8, 2013

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded $4.4 million to a collaboration of scientists at five U.S. universities and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to help build a telescope for deployment on the International Space Station in 2017.

The U.S. collaboration is part of a 13-nation effort to build the 2.5-meter ultraviolet telescope, called the Extreme Universe Space Observatory. The telescope will search for the mysterious source of the most energetic particles in the universe from the ISS’s Japanese Experiment Module.

The source of these energetic particles, called ultra high-energy cosmic rays, has remained one of the great mysteries of science since physicist John Linsley discovered them more than 50 years ago. These cosmic rays consist of protons and other subatomic scraps of matter that fly through the universe at almost light speed.

“The science goal is to discover the sources of ultra high-energy cosmic rays by observing their traces in the atmosphere looking 248 miles from the ISS down to the surface,” said Angela Olinto, professor in astronomy & astrophysics at the University of Chicago’s Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. Olinto leads the U.S. collaboration, which includes scientists at the Colorado School of Mines, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Vanderbilt University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The NASA grant will support a subset of the U.S. institutions in building lasers, flashers and monitoring equipment that will be used to calibrate the telescope’s optics from 20 locations around the globe as the ISS passes overhead.

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