NASA’s SuperTIGER Balloon to study Heavy Cosmic Particles

NASA plans to launch on December 10 a balloon-borne instrument to collect information on cosmic rays, high-energy particles from beyond the solar system that enter Earth’s atmosphere every moment of every day. The Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER), is designed to study rare heavy nuclei, which hold clues about where and how cosmic rays attain speeds up to nearly the speed of light.

Heavy elements, like the gold in your jewellery, are produced through special processes in stars, and SuperTIGER aims to help us understand how and where this happens. Heavy elements, like the gold in your jewellery, are produced through special processes in stars, and SuperTIGER aims to help us understand how and where this happens.

With SuperTIGER, researchers are looking for the rarest of the rare so-called ultra-heavy cosmic ray nuclei beyond iron, from cobalt to barium. Within the last few years, it has become apparent that some or all of the very neutron-rich elements heavier than iron may be produced by neutron star mergers instead of supernovas. The only way to choose between them is to measure what’s really out there, and that’s what we’ll be doing with SuperTIGER.

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