A balloon trip to the galaxy

Launching a balloon into space sounds impossible, and it is. But if your balloon is the size of a soccer stadium, you can bring a telescope all the way to the edge of space. At that altitude of 36 kilometers, far above the water vapour in the earth’s atmosphere, the telescope is free to observe the far-infrared radiation that tells the story of the birth and death of galaxies.

Still a useless mission, if it weren’t for three detectors developed by researchers from TU Delft and SRON (Space Research Organisation of the Netherlands). The launch date is December 2021, but you can already read about their intricate workings and the 20-year long road of painstaking development leading up to this all time high for infra-red space exploration.