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Published July 12, 2006 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

SPIDER: a new balloon-borne experiment to measure CMB polarization on large angular scales


We describe SPIDER, a novel balloon-borne experiment designed to measure the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) on large angular scales. The primary goal of SPIDER is to detect the faint signature of inflationary gravitational waves in the CMB polarization. The payload consists of six telescopes, each operating in a single frequency band and cooled to 4 K by a common LN/LHe cryostat. The primary optic for each telescope is a 25 cm diameter lens cooled to 4 K. Each telescope feeds an array of antenna coupled, polarization sensitive sub-Kelvin bolometers that covers a 20 degree diameter FOV with diffraction limited resolution. The six focal planes span 70 to 300 GHz in a manner optimized to separate polarized galactic emission from CMB polarization, and together contain over 2300 detectors. Polarization modulation is achieved by rotating a cryogenic half-wave plate in front of the primary optic of each telescope. The cryogenic system is designed for 30 days of operation. Observations will be conducted during the night portions of a mid-latitude, long duration balloon flight which will circumnavigate the globe from Australia. By spinning the payload at 1 rpm with the six telescopes fixed in elevation, SPIDER will map approximately half of the sky at each frequency on each night of the flight.

Additional Information

© 2006 Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). We gratefully acknowledge Danny Ball and the staff at the Columbia Scientific Ballooning Facility for help in planning the flight strategy and performing payload flight simulations. Simulations of CMB observations were performed on the McKenzie cluster64 at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics which was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust. CBN acknowledges sabbatical support from NASA JPL. Work on SPIDER at Caltech is currently funded by a generous gift from John Robinson.

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