JHU-built rocket grabs images of far-off galaxy - Technical.ly Baltimore


Dec. 29, 2015 10:25 am

JHU-built rocket grabs images of far-off galaxy

The FORTIS telescope system was looking for clues about star formation in the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy.

The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy.

(Photo courtesy of NASA)

While SpaceX was making a big breakthrough in space travel earlier this month, a rocket that launched in New Mexico was taking a look at what one of those far-off galaxies looks like.

An unmanned sounding rocket was launched from White Sands Missile Range with a telescope system known as the FORTIS onboard. Equipped with a spectrograph, the FORTIS was seeking a better view of the 56-million-light-years-away Great Barred Spiral Galaxy than is available here on Earth.

The FORTIS was built at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood campus in Baltimore, and the mission was led by JHU astrophysicist Stephan McCandliss.

The launch on Dec. 17 happened in about 15 minutes. Now, the FORTIS is set to be recovered and NASA is reporting that “good data were obtained.” The rocket was launched 175 miles up, where Earth’s ultraviolet light wouldn’t be as much of an issue. The FORTIS’ observation work is set to last for six minutes, starting with a 30-second auto-targeting of the 40 brightest spots in the galaxy.

The mission is looking into the dust around the galaxy, hoping to find out more about how galaxies grow. In the case of the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy (aka NGC 1365), the galaxy is taking in and pushing back out material to form stars. The FORTIS equipment can create a spectrum, allowing scientists to study that material flowing in and out.

“Star-forming galaxies like [the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy] are swallowing mass from the intergalactic medium, and that material becomes stars,” McCandliss said in a NASA statement. “When these new stars ignite, they heat the surrounding gas and dust, making it emit light in these particular wavelengths.”

The FORTIS was completed in early 2013 at a cost of about $3.2 million, according to JHU Hub. The telescope has been used on two other occasions.




Bluefield Innovations thinks this JHU cancer research could become a new Baltimore company

Inside Johns Hopkins’ plans to galvanize more student entrepreneurs

How Harpoon Medical’s exit can produce returns for Baltimore



How Think|Stack and Year Up are cultivating local tech talent



Front-End Developer

Apply Now
8 Market Pl, Suite #402, Baltimore, MD, 21202


Development Support Engineer

Apply Now
8 Market Pl, Suite #402, Baltimore, MD, 21204

Parabal Inc.

Enterprise Mobility Engineer

Apply Now

University of Maryland Baltimore looks beyond the BioPark with latest innovation hub

University of Maryland spinout Harpoon Medical acquired in $100M deal

Johns Hopkins astrophysics team wins $3M Breakthrough Prize for universe-mapping space probe



Let these free workshops help your business really take off



Sales Representative

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA - Old City

Workarea by WebLinc

Sales Account Executive – eCommerce Software

Apply Now

University City District

Data Scientist

Apply Now

Sign-up for regular updates from Technical.ly

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!