A team led by University of Arizona astronomer Christopher Walker has been selected by NASA to launch a balloon-borne observatory to study the interstellar gas in the Milky Way galaxy and the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud.

“GUSTO will provide the first complete study of all phases of the stellar life cycle, from the formation of molecular clouds, through star birth and evolution, to the formation of gas clouds and the re-initiation of the cycle,” said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director in the Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., in a NASA news release.

GUSTO stands for the Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory mission.

According to NASA: “The mission is targeted for launch in 2021 from McMurdo, Antarctica, and is expected to stay in the air between 100 to 170 days, depending on weather conditions.

It will cost approximately $40 million, including the balloon launch funding and the cost of post-launch operations and data analysis.”