New Delhi: NASA plans to launch a balloon-borne instrument to collect information on cosmic rays, high-energy particles from beyond the solar system.

The instrument, called the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER), is designed to study rare heavy nuclei, which hold clues about where and how cosmic rays attain speeds up to nearly the speed of light.

“Heavy elements, like the gold in your jewellery, are produced through special processes in stars, and SuperTIGER aims to help us understand how and where this happens,” said lead co-investigator John Mitchell at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

“We’re all stardust, but figuring out where and how this stardust is made helps us better understand our galaxy and our place in it,” Mitchell said.

The most common cosmic ray particles are protons or hydrogen nuclei, making up roughly 90 per cent, followed by helium nuclei (eight per cent) and electrons (one per cent). 

The remainder contains the…

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