How will NASA find new galaxies? Glitter

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How will NASA find new galaxies? Glitter

Space telescopes are great, but they're hardly the cheapest things to build, launch and maintain, which means scientists are forced to make compromises. The solution to this problem isn't to build a better rocket with a bigger carrying capacity, but to rely upon a low tech way to make any party fabulous: glitter. Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe that the high-tech equivalent of shreds of foil could be used as a cheap and lightweight alternative to the hefty mirrors you'd find in the Hubble Telescope.

You see, big mirrors are used to see the objects magnified by the light, which greatly adds to the heft and cost of the hardware. In this project, codenamed "Orbiting Rainbows," the mirror would be ditched in favor of a cloud of glitter-like particles that'd float behind the lens. This cloud would be held in place by lasers and could, theoretically, be shifted around to reflect radio waves instead of light when required.

Naturally, this technology isn't likely to pop up outside of a laboratory any time soon, but early tests have proved positive. If it works, then the tech could also be utilized to help predict earthquakes and other, more local, applications. The hope is that we'll see a small prototype dropped into near-Earth orbit with a test cloud "no larger than a bottle cap." Maybe the JPL should dig through the rest of Mariah Carey's back catalog just in case the secret to perpetual motion is tucked inside the lyrics to Dreamlover.

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