A balloon-borne telescope successfully heads to the 'edge of space' to study the early universe

With a noise like giant flags billowing in the wind, the massive white helium balloon rose into the air and carried SPIDER, a telescope designed to investigate the origin of the universe, high above Antarctica. The successful Jan. 1 launch signaled the beginning of a roughly 20-day mission above the continent. Pushed by circumpolar winds, the balloon will carry SPIDER at an altitude of roughly 120,000 feet while the instrument's six cameras search for faint remnants of gravitational waves left over from the Big Bang during a rapid-expansion process known as inflation. Updates from the SPIDER team are posted to Princeton's SPIDER blog, and the instrument can be tracked on the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility's website.

Provided by Princeton University

Runtime: 1:28

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