PALESTINE, TX (KLTV)
East Texas scientists are working on a multi-million dollar NASA-funded project that almost didn't happen.
Many East Texans first learned about the $8 million telescope project last week, when the truck carrying the equipment from the University of Minnesota went missing on its way to the Columbia Balloon Facility in Palestine.
Days after the delivery went missing, the driver and trailer were found separately in the Dallas area.
That equipment is now in Palestine, something scientists like Asad Aboobaker are more than happy about.
"That's six years worth of work; people were worried," said Aboobaker who is a researcher for the University of Minnesota.
They were worried that a piece of their $8 million dollar experiment would never be recovered.
But the shipping company came through; after days of searching, the telescope was spotted.
"That was awesome; I mean you could only imagine what we were feeling at that point. It was like, 'Oh great! We can get on with our lives; we can do what we came here to do," Aboobaker said.
Which is to build and launch EBEX, a three ton balloon-borne telescope that will take pictures of the universe.
"This experiment in particular is looking for evidence of a theory called inflation, which solves some sort of outstanding problems in the standard Big Bang Cosmology.
This experiment has attracted scientists from all over the world.
Amber Miller is the Dean of Science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University; her team is participating in the experiment.
"It means there was a light that was admitted when the universe was very, very young...that light carries an imprint; it's like a photograph of what the universe looked like when it was 380,000 years old. It also carries an imprint, potentially of what the universe was like when it was much less than one second old," Miller said.
In December, these scientists say they will launch this telescope into the stratosphere over Antarctica.
"We get to solve the mysteries of the universe, and we hope that is a good investment for the American people," Aboobaker said.
This team will continue to work in East Texas until August.