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NASA launches a new Earth-like planet hunting telescope using a giant balloon

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NASA launches a new Earth-like planet hunting telescope using a giant balloon – TechCrunch

A new telescope will seek out planets that resemble Earth from a height of around 125,000 feet, suing special optical technology that will filter out light from the stars they orbit to provide a better view. The telescope is the product of UMass Lowell, and took off on Tuesday morning from Fort Sumner, New Mexico aboard a helium balloon roughly the size of an entire football field.

The balloon had to be that big to carry the telescope, which itself weighs around 1,500 lbs, and measures 14 feet long by 3 feet wide. The so-called ‘PICTURE-C’ telescope will operate at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere for a clear view, and it’s a reusable piece of equipment that will stay aloft for several hours at at time before being decoupled and making its way back via parachute-assisted descent.

NASA is funding the project via a $5.6 million five-year grant for the university, and it’ll return for a follow-up trip next year to capture more images to assist their research team in their search. The project could result in the discovery of other objects in space beyond Earth-like planets, since it’s a novel approach to taking a look at bodies in space that were previously washed out by ambient light from stars.

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Photo credit: NASA

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is Dropbox reinventing itself?”,”content”:{“rendered”:”

According to Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, 80% of the product’s users rely on it, at least partially, for work.n

It makes sense, then, that the company is refocusing to try and cement its spot in the workplace; to shed its image as “just” a file storage company (in a time when just about every big company has its own cloud storage offering) and evolve into something more immutably core to daily operations.n

Earlier this week, Dropbox announced that the “new Dropbox” would be rolling out to all users. It takes the simple, shared folders that Dropbox is known for and turns them into what the company calls “Spaces” u2014 little mini collaboration hubs for your team, complete with comment streams, AI for highlighting files you might need mid-meeting, and integrations into things like Slack, Trello and G Suite. With an overhauled interface that brings much of Dropbox’s functionality out of the OS and into its own dedicated app, it’s by far the biggest user-facing change the product has seen since launching 12 years ago.n

Shortly after the announcement, I sat down with Dropbox VP of Product Adam Nash and CTO Quentin Clark . We chatted about why the company is changing things up, why they’re building this on top of the existing Dropbox product, and the things they know they just can’t change.n

You can find these interviews below, edited for brevity and clarity.n

Greg Kumparak: Can you explain the new focus a bit?n

Adam Nash: Sure! I think you know this already, but I run products and growth, so I’m gonna have a bit of a product bias to this whole thing. But Dropbox… one of its differentiating characteristics is really that when we built this utility, this “magic folder”, it kind of went everywhere.n



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