UK joins NASA and JAXA on LiteBIRD Space Telescope Mission

UK Space News

The cosmic microwave background, often abbreviated as CMB or CMBR, is microwave radiation that occupies the entire observable universe.

It’s a remnant that provides researchers with an important source of data on the primordial universe soon after the Big Bang.

The UK Space Agency and NASA have joined a Japanese-led mission to test the current theory of how our Universe expanded right after it was formed.

The new LiteBIRD space telescope will analyse variations in light left over from the Big Bang.

LiteBIRD stands for (‘Light satellite for the study of B-mode polarisation and Inflation from cosmic background Radiation Detection’).

UK scientists will design parts of LiteBIRD’s highly specialised science instruments and analyse their findings.

World-leading experts at Cardiff University will work on production of the space telescopes’ important lenses and filters.

“It’s great that unique technologies developed by Cardiff University and our UK collaborators can enable such a ground-breaking experiment.”

– Professor Hargrave, LiteBIRD UK Consortium Principal Investigator

“It’s really exciting to see the UK play a key role in one of the most fundamental experiments of the coming decade, contributing to a ground-breaking new understanding of the Big Bang and high-energy physics.”

– Professor Erminia Calabrese, Co-Principal Investigator and Science Lead of the LiteBIRD UK Consortium

University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Cambridge University, the University of Oxford, the University of Manchester, and the University of Sussex will also provide world-class expertise.

The UK Space Agency has dedicated initial funding of £2.7 million to support the mission, and intends to invest £17 in total.

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Thumbnail image credit: JAXA