Aspera is a University of Arizona-designed SmallSat built to study galaxy evolution.
The Aspera mission’s goal is to provide the first-ever direct observations of a certain portion of the circumgalactic medium – vast “oceans” of low-density gas permeating certain galaxies and in some cases even connecting them, bridging large distances across the cosmos.
Carlos Vargas, a postdoctoral researcher in Arizona’s Steward Observatory, said the familiar pictures of galaxies as luminous archipelagos floating in space, filled with millions or billions of stars, tell only a small part of their story.
He said: “As telescopes have become more sensitive and have allowed us to discover more exotic types of gases, we now realise there is tons of stuff in between galaxies that connects them.
“Galaxies are undergoing this beautiful dance in which inflowing and outflowing gases balance each other.”