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Telescope vs. car

What happens when you pit a 2-tonne, US$2 million dollar balloon-launched gamma-ray telescope against a jeep? I won’t keep you in suspense, nobody’s a winner:

That unfortunate wreck was the Nuclear Compton Telescope, a gamma-ray telescope set to launch on 29 April from a balloon launching facility in Alice Springs, Australia. The telescope appears to be a test bed for new technologies that will improve gamma-ray astronomy. Gamma rays are pretty much the most energetic light particles out there, and the telescope uses (or rather used) an array of 12 cryogenic germanium detectors to do a sort of indirect imaging of the rays as they scatter through the instrument (since they’re too powerful to be simply reflected and concentrated by mirrors).

The telescope was meant to fly for a week or two, but a strong gust of wind made its flight significantly shorter than expected.


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