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23 July 2014 The Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer (PIPER)
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The Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer (Piper) is a balloon-borne cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarimeter designed to search for evidence of inflation by measuring the large-angular scale CMB polarization signal. Bicep2 recently reported a detection of B-mode power corresponding to the tensor-to-scalar ratio r = 0:2 on 2 degree scales. If the Bicep2 signal is caused by inflationary gravitational waves (IGWs), then there should be a corresponding increase in B-mode power on angular scales larger than 18 degrees. Piper is currently the only suborbital instrument capable of fully testing and extending the Bicep2 results by measuring the B-mode power spectrum on angular scales ϴ =~0:6° to 90°, covering both the reionization bump and recombination peak, with sensitivity to measure the tensor-to-scalar ratio down to r = 0:007, and four frequency bands to distinguish foregrounds. Piper will accomplish this by mapping 85% of the sky in four frequency bands (200, 270, 350, 600 GHz) over a series of 8 conventional balloon flights from the northern and southern hemispheres. The instrument has background-limited sensitivity provided by fully cryogenic (1.5 K) optics focusing the sky signal onto four 32x40-pixel arrays of time-domain multiplexed Transition-Edge Sensor (TES) bolometers held at 140 mK. Polarization sensitivity and systematic control are provided by front-end Variable- delay Polarization Modulators (VPMs), which rapidly modulate only the polarized sky signal at 3 Hz and allow Piper to instantaneously measure the full Stokes vector (I; Q;U; V ) for each pointing. We describe the Piper instrument and progress towards its first flight.
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