SPIDER: A balloon-borne CMB polarimeter for large angular scales

Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (Impact Factor: 0.2). 06/2011; 7741. DOI: 10.1117/12.857720
Source: arXiv


We describe SPIDER, a balloon-borne instrument to map the polarization of the
millimeter-wave sky with degree angular resolution. Spider consists of six
monochromatic refracting telescopes, each illuminating a focal plane of
large-format antenna-coupled bolometer arrays. A total of 2,624 superconducting
transition-edge sensors are distributed among three observing bands centered at
90, 150, and 280 GHz. A cold half-wave plate at the aperture of each telescope
modulates the polarization of incoming light to control systematics. Spider's
first flight will be a 20-30-day Antarctic balloon campaign in December 2011.
This flight will map \sim8% of the sky to achieve unprecedented sensitivity to
the polarization signature of the gravitational wave background predicted by
inflationary cosmology. The Spider mission will also serve as a proving ground
for these detector technologies in preparation for a future satellite mission.

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    • "It is expected to map the CMB polarization at angular scales larger than a few degrees, observing over 65% of the sky at 38, 93, 148 and 217 GHz. SPIDER [68] [69] is a balloon-borne instrument designed to probe the possible primordial gravitational wave signal by detecting CMB B-modes at degree angular scales. It involves 2400 pairs of polarization-sensitive bolometers in the 94 GHz and 150 GHz frequency bands and map 7.5% of the sky with a depth of 11 to 14 µK . "
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    ABSTRACT: The Primordial Inflation Explorer (PIXIE) is an Explorer-class mission to measure the gravity-wave signature of primordial inflation through its distinctive imprint on the linear polarization of the cosmic microwave background. The instrument consists of a polarizing Michelson interferometer configured as a nulling polarimeter to measure the difference spectrum between orthogonal linear polarizations from two co-aligned beams. Either input can view the sky or a temperature-controlled absolute reference blackbody calibrator. PIXIE will map the absolute intensity and linear polarization (Stokes I, Q, and U parameters) over the full sky in 400 spectral channels spanning 2.5 decades in frequency from 30 GHz to 6 THz (1 cm to 50 um wavelength). Multi-moded optics provide background-limited sensitivity using only 4 detectors, while the highly symmetric design and multiple signal modulations provide robust rejection of potential systematic errors. The principal science goal is the detection and characterization of linear polarization from an inflationary epoch in the early universe, with tensor-to-scalar ratio r < 10^{-3} at 5 standard deviations. The rich PIXIE data set will also constrain physical processes ranging from Big Bang cosmology to the nature of the first stars to physical conditions within the interstellar medium of the Galaxy.
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the cryogenic system for SPIDER, a balloon-borne microwave polarimeter that will map 8% of the sky with degree-scale angular resolution. The system consists of a 1284 L liquid helium cryostat and a 16 L capillary-filled superfluid helium tank, which provide base operating temperatures of 4 K and 1.5 K, respectively. Closed-cycle helium-3 adsorption refrigerators supply sub-Kelvin cooling power to multiple focal planes, which are housed in monochromatic telescope inserts. The main helium tank is suspended inside the vacuum vessel with thermally insulating fiberglass flexures, and shielded from thermal radiation by a combination of two vapor cooled shields and multi-layer insulation. This system allows for an extremely low instrumental background and a hold time in excess of 25 days. The total mass of the cryogenic system, including cryogens, is approximately 1000 kg. This enables conventional long duration balloon flights. We will discuss the design, thermal analysis, and qualification of the cryogenic system.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
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