15 July 2010 The Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer (PIPER)
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The Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer (PIPER) is a balloon-borne instrument designed to search for the faint signature of inflation in the polarized component of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Each flight will be configured for a single frequency, but in order to aid in the removal of the polarized foreground signal due to Galactic dust, the filters will be changed between flights. In this way, the CMB polarization at a total of four different frequencies (200, 270, 350, and 600 GHz) will be measured on large angular scales. PIPER consists of a pair of cryogenic telescopes, one for measuring each of Stokes Q and U in the instrument frame. Each telescope receives both linear orthogonal polarizations in two 32 × 40 element planar arrays that utilize Transition-Edge Sensors (TES). The first element in each telescope is a variable-delay polarization modulator (VPM) that fully modulates the linear Stokes parameter to which the telescope is sensitive. There are several advantages to this architecture. First, by modulating at the front of the optics, instrumental polarization is unmodulated and is therefore cleanly separated from source polarization. Second, by implementing this system with the appropriate symmetry, systematic effects can be further mitigated. In the PIPER design, many of the systematics are manifest in the unmeasured linear Stokes parameter for each telescope and thus can be separated from the desired signal. Finally, the modulation cycle never mixes the Q and U linear Stokes parameters, and thus residuals in the modulation do not twist the observed polarization vector. This is advantageous because measuring the angle of linear polarization is critical for separating the inflationary signal from other polarized components.
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