NASA launches rocket for galaxy formation study

Updated: 2013-06-06 13:48


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WASHINGTON - US space agency NASA on Wednesday night launched a rocket that carries the Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment (CIBER) designed to study the formation of the first galaxy.

The Black Brant XII suborbital rocket carrying the CIBER took off at 11:05 pm EDT (0305 GMT Thursday) from NASA's launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

With the CIBER, scientists will study when the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe and how brightly they burned their nuclear fuel.

This is the fourth flight for the CIBER on a NASA sounding rocket. The previous launches were made in 2009, 2010 and 2012, respectively, from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. After each flight the payload was recovered for post-calibrations and re-flight.

For this flight, the CIBER flew on a larger and more powerful rocket than before. They will loft it to a higher altitude than those previously obtained, thus providing longer observation time for the instruments, said NASA.

The experiment, which will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean more than 400 miles (about 644 km) off the Virginia coast, will not be recovered, NASA said.