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What is SIM Lite?  

2009-07-31 12:43:02|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/SIM/whatIsSIM/

 

What is SIM Lite?

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Artist's concept of SIM
Artist's concept of SIM

How big is the universe? What are the dimensions of our galaxy(星系,银河系)? Are there other planets like Earth out there among the stars? We have asked these questions around campfires(篝火) and in the halls of universities for centuries. Today, we know that the answers lie hidden in the positions and distances of the stars and galaxies. And each time scientists have measured these positions and distances with greater accuracy(精确), they have gained a wealth of (大量的,丰富的) new understanding.

The SIM Lite Astrometric Observatory (天文台) (formerly called the Space Interferometry(干涉测量(法)) Mission(任务)), currently under development, will determine the positions and distances of stars several hundred times more accurately than any previous program. This accuracy will allow SIM Lite to determine the distances to stars throughout the galaxy and to probe(探索,调查) nearby stars for Earth-sized planets. SIM will open a window to a new world of discoveries from planets around nearby stars to the behavior of quasars(类星体) billions of light years away.

This breakthrough(突破) in capabilities is possible because SIM will use optical interferometry((等离子)光学干涉量度法). Pioneered by Albert Michelson, who became the first American to win the Nobel Prize in physics in 1907, optical interferometry can fulfill its full potential only outside the distorting(扭曲) effects of Earth's atmosphere(大气层). There, it can combine light from two or more telescopes as if they were pieces of a single, gigantic(巨大的) telescope mirror. Developed for use in space with SIM, this technique will eventually lead to the development of telescopes powerful enough to take images of Earth-like planets orbiting(沿轨道运行的) distant stars and to determine whether these planets sustain(维持) life as we know it.

The SIM Lite Astrometric Observatory is being developed by the Jet Propulsion (喷气推进) Laboratory under contract(合同) with NASA(美国航天局) and in close collaboration(合作) with industry partner Northrop Grumman (诺斯洛普·格鲁门公司(Northrop Grumman)组建于1994年,是诺斯洛普公司收购格鲁门公司后组成的。这家公司是世界第4大军工生产厂商(2007年),世界上最大的雷达制造商和最大的海军船只制造商。) in Redondo Beach, California.

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