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13 May 2019 FIREBall-2: advancing TRL while doing proof-of-concept astrophysics on a suborbital platform
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Here we discuss advances in UV technology over the last decade, with an emphasis on photon counting, low noise, high efficiency detectors in sub-orbital programs. We focus on the use of innovative UV detectors in a NASA astrophysics balloon telescope, FIREBall-2, which successfully flew in the Fall of 2018. The FIREBall-2 telescope is designed to make observations of distant galaxies to understand more about how they evolve by looking for diffuse hydrogen in the galactic halo. The payload utilizes a 1.0-meter class telescope with an ultraviolet multi-object spectrograph and is a joint collaboration between Caltech, JPL, LAM, CNES, Columbia, the University of Arizona, and NASA. The improved detector technology that was tested on FIREBall-2 can be applied to any UV mission. We discuss the results of the flight and detector performance. We will also discuss the utility of sub-orbital platforms (both balloon payloads and rockets) for testing new technologies and proof-of-concept scientific ideas.
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