AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 8. Space Instruments
Display, Monday, May 31, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[8.18] The Balloon-Launched Asteroseismology Telescope (BLAST)

G. Murphy (JHU/APL), D. Buzasi (UC Berkeley), T. Brown (HAO/NCAR), P. Chen (NASA/GSFC)

Asteroseismology, the study of stellar oscillations, provides the only way to directly probe the internal structure and rotation of stars. The simplest way to measure oscillations is through searches for periodic micromagnitude-level variations in the stellar luminosity; such searches are prohibitive from the ground (requiring hundreds of nights of time on several 4-meter class telescopes) due to atmospheric scintillation and the inability to obtain long uninterrupted observing periods without encountering the extremely hostile nighttime polar environment.

Although all of the difficulties encountered by terrestrial attempts at asteroseismology are obviated by observing from space, such platforms introduce added complexity and cost. However, most of the advantages of space can be achieved by flying a 0.25 to 0.5 meter telescope feeding a white-light CCD photometer on a balloon at altitudes in excess of 30 km, and the upcoming generation of ultra long duration balloons, make this option even more attractive.

We describe the Balloon-Launched Asteroseismology Telescope (BLAST), a proposed University-class Explorer mission, which is designed to perform asteroseismology on solar-like visual binary systems.

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