We are slowly reaching new destinations, and earlier this year NASA completed the biggest experiment that maps the stars in space.
To achieve this, NASA sent a spacecraft to survey an ‘alien sky’ that was so far away from Earth that the stars appeared to be in a completely different arrangement. The New Horizons spacecraft travelled seven billion kilometres away to measure the distance between stars.
This task was achieved by using a “parallax effect” which is where scientists compare the image of stars, checking whether they have changed positions when viewed from different locations.
According to NASA, “an easy way to see parallax is to place one finger at arm’s length and watch it jump back and forth when you view it successively with each eye.”
With this experiment, scientists compared images of this ‘alien sky’ taken by the New Horizons spacecraft with pictures of the same stars taken from telescopes on Earth the same day.
By comparing these photos, scientists have been able to map the “largest parallax baseline” of over seven billion kilometres, and the spacecraft is only getting started!
The New Horizons is continuing on its journey through space and is constantly sending new data that helps NASA understand space that little bit more.