Gusto will launch from Antarctica. | Image: Geoffrey Palo / GUSTO Team
NASA is preparing to begin an experiment named GUSTO — short for Galactic / Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory — to gather data that will be used to create a 3D map of a portion of the Milky Way Galaxy.
The GUSTO experiment involves a telescope that will float 120,000 feet over Antarctica on a high-altitude balloon for at least 55 days, soaking up high-frequency radio waves percolating through the cosmic interstellar medium — a term that refers to the gases, dust, radiation, and other materials that make up the space between stars. NASA has a fun guide to its scientific balloons that explains the zero-pressure and super-pressure balloons it uses for missions like this.
Image: José Silva / GUSTO Team