New “Terrascope” could turn entire Earth into a telescope lens - Front Page Live
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New “Terrascope” could turn entire Earth into a telescope lens

08/12/2019 3:43 pm ET

Photo: Hubble Space Telescope/NASA

Place a spaceship out in space, allow the Earth’s atmosphere to naturally bend starlight, and voila—you have the world’s first giant “Terrascope,” a Columbia University scientist suggests.

As humans seek more knowledge about the universe and telescopes continue to get more expensive, David Kipping has an answer: use the Earth’s atmosphere as a lens.
When starlight hits the atmosphere, the light naturally refracts, focusing the rays on a region of space on the Earth’s opposite side.

Kipping says putting a spacecraft in an orbit 1.5 million kilometers from Earth could catch those focused rays. That means the craft could likely collect more light from dim objects (such as far-away stars and galaxies) than any telescopes on Earth could ever do.

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