The Probe of Inflation and Cosmic Origins (PICO) is a probe-class mission concept currently under study by NASA. PICO will probe the physics of the Big Bang and the energy scale of inflation, constrain the sum of neutrino masses, measure the growth of structures in the universe, and constrain its reionization history by making full sky maps of the cosmic microwave background with sensitivity 80 times higher than the Planck space mission. With bands at 21-799 GHz and arcmin resolution at the highest frequencies, PICO will make polarization maps of Galactic synchrotron and dust emission to observe the role of magnetic fields in Milky Way's evolution and star formation. We discuss PICO's optical system, focal plane, and give current best case noise estimates. The optical design is a two-reflector optimized open-Dragone design with a cold aperture stop. It gives a diffraction limited field of view (DLFOV) with throughput of 910 cm2sr at 21 GHz. The large 82 square degree DLFOV hosts 12,996 transition edge sensor bolometers distributed in 21 frequency bands and maintained at 0.1 K. We use focal plane technologies that are currently implemented on operating CMB instruments including three-color multi-chroic pixels and multiplexed readouts. To our knowledge, this is the first use of an open-Dragone design for mm-wave astrophysical observations, and the only monolithic CMB instrument to have such a broad frequency coverage. With current best case estimate polarization depth of 0.65 µKCMB-arcmin over the entire sky, PICO is the most sensitive CMB instrument designed to date.
BICEP Array is a degree-scale Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) experiment that will search for primordial B-mode polarization while constraining Galactic foregrounds. BICEP Array will be comprised of four receivers to cover a broad frequency range with channels at 30/40, 95, 150 and 220/270 GHz. The first low-frequency receiver will map synchrotron emission at 30 and 40 GHz and will deploy to the South Pole at the end of 2019. In this paper, we give an overview of the BICEP Array science and instrument, with a focus on the detector module. We designed corrugations in the metal frame of the module to suppress unwanted interactions with the antenna-coupled detectors that would otherwise deform the beams of edge pixels. This design reduces the residual beam systematics and temperature-to-polarization leakage due to beam steering and shape mismatch between polarized beam pairs. We report on the simulated performance of single- and wide-band corrugations designed to minimize these effects. Our optimized design alleviates beam differential ellipticity caused by the metal frame to about 7% over 57% bandwidth (25 to 45 GHz), which is close to the level due the bare antenna itself without a metal frame. Initial laboratory measurements are also presented.
BICEP3 is a 520mm aperture on-axis refracting telescope observing the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at 95GHz in search of the B-mode signal originating from in ationary gravitational waves. BICEP3's focal plane is populated with modularized tiles of antenna-coupled transition edge sensor (TES) bolometers. BICEP3 was deployed to the South Pole during 2014-15 austral summer and has been operational since. During the 2016-17 austral summer, we implemented changes to optical elements that lead to better noise performance. We discuss this upgrade and show the performance of BICEP3 at its full mapping speed from the 2017 and 2018 observing seasons. BICEP3 achieves an order-of-magnitude improvement in mapping speed compared to a Keck 95GHz receiver. We demonstrate 6.6μK√s noise performance of the BICEP3 receiver.
Targeting faint polarization patterns arising from Primordial Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background requires excellent observational sensitivity. Optical elements in small aperture experiments such as Bicep3 and Keck Array are designed to optimize throughput and minimize losses from transmission, reflection and scattering at millimeter wavelengths. As aperture size increases, cryostat vacuum windows must withstand larger forces from atmospheric pressure and the solution has often led to a thicker window at the expense of larger transmission loss. We have identified a new candidate material for the fabrication of vacuum windows: with a tensile strength two orders of magnitude larger than previously used materials, woven high-modulus polyethylene could allow for dramatically thinner windows, and therefore significantly reduced losses and higher sensitivity. In these proceedings we investigate the suitability of high-modulus polyethylene windows for ground-based CMB experiments, such as current and future receivers in the Bicep/Keck Array program. This includes characterizing their optical transmission as well as their mechanical behavior under atmospheric pressure. We find that such ultra-thin materials are promising candidates to improve the performance of large-aperture instruments at millimeter wavelengths, and outline a plan for further tests ahead of a possible upcoming field deployment of such a science-grade window.
Bicep Array is the newest multi-frequency instrument in the Bicep/Keck Array program. It is comprised of four 550mm aperture refractive telescopes observing the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at 30/40, 95, 150 and 220/270 GHz with over 30,000 detectors. We present an overview of the receiver, detailing the optics, thermal, mechanical, and magnetic shielding design. Bicep Array follows Bicep3's modular focal plane concept, and upgrades to 6" wafer to reduce fabrication with higher detector count per module. The first receiver at 30/40GHz is expected to start observing at the South Pole during the 2019-20 season. By the end of the planned Bicep Array program, we project 0.002 ⪅ σ(r) ⪅ 0.006, assuming current modeling of polarized Galactic foreground and depending on the level of delensing that can be achieved with higher resolution maps from the South Pole Telescope.
Bicep Array is a cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarization experiment that will begin observing at the South Pole in early 2019. This experiment replaces the five Bicep2 style receivers that compose the Keck Array with four larger Bicep3 style receivers observing at six frequencies from 30 to 270GHz. The 95GHz and 150GHz receivers will continue to push the already deep Bicep/Keck CMB maps while the 30/40GHz and 220/270GHz receivers will constrain the synchrotron and galactic dust foregrounds respectively. Here we report on the design and performance of the Bicep Array instruments focusing on the mount and cryostat systems.
The Probe of Inflation and Cosmic Origins (PICO) is a NASA-funded study of a Probe-class mission concept. The toplevel science objectives are to probe the physics of the Big Bang by measuring or constraining the energy scale of inflation, probe fundamental physics by measuring the number of light particles in the Universe and the sum of neutrino masses, to measure the reionization history of the Universe, and to understand the mechanisms driving the cosmic star formation history, and the physics of the galactic magnetic field. PICO would have multiple frequency bands between 21 and 799 GHz, and would survey the entire sky, producing maps of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation, of galactic dust, of synchrotron radiation, and of various populations of point sources. Several instrument configurations, optical systems, cooling architectures, and detector and readout technologies have been and continue to be considered in the development of the mission concept. We will present a snapshot of the baseline mission concept currently under development.
SPHEREx, a mission in NASA’s Medium Explorer (MIDEX) program recently selected for Phase-A implementation, is an all-sky survey satellite that will produce a near-infrared spectrum for every 6 arcsecond pixel on the sky. SPHEREx has a simple, high-heritage design with large optical throughput to maximize spectral mapping speed. While the legacy data products will provide a rich archive of spectra for the entire astronomical community to mine, the instrument is optimized for three specific scientific goals: to probe inflation through the imprint primordial non-Gaussianity left on today’s large-scale cosmological structure; to survey the Galactic plane for water and other biogenic ices through absorption line studies; and to constrain the history of galaxy formation through power spectra of background fluctuations as measured in deep regions near the ecliptic poles. The aluminum telescope consists of a heavily baffled, wide-field off-axis reflective triplet design. The focal plane is imaged simultaneously by two mosaics of H2RG detector arrays separated by a dichroic beamsplitter. SPHEREx assembles spectra through the use of mass and volume efficient linear variable filters (LVFs) included in the focal plane assemblies, eliminating the need for any dispersive or moving elements. Instead, spectra are constructed through a series of small steps in the spacecraft attitude across the sky, modulating the location of an object within the FOV and varying the observation wavelength in each exposure. The spectra will cover the wavelength range between 0.75 and 5.0 µm at spectral resolutions ranging between R=35 and R=130. The entire telescope is cooled passively by a series of three V-groove radiators below 80K. An additional stage of radiative cooling is included to reduce the long wavelength focal plane temperature below 60K, controlling the dark current. As a whole, SPHEREx requires no new technologies and carries large technical and resource margins on every aspect of the design.
The detection of Earth-like exoplanets in the habitable zone of their stars, and their spectroscopic characterization in a search for biosignatures, requires starlight suppression that exceeds the current best ground-based performance by orders of magnitude. The required planet/star brightness ratio of order 10−10 at visible wavelengths can be obtained by blocking stellar photons with an occulter, either externally (a starshade) or internally (a coronagraph) to the telescope system, and managing diffracted starlight, so as to directly image the exoplanet in reflected starlight. Coronagraph instruments require advancement in telescope aperture (either monolithic or segmented), aperture obscurations (obscured by secondary mirror and its support struts), and wavefront error sensitivity (e.g. line-of-sight jitter, telescope vibration, polarization). The starshade, which has never been used in a science application, benefits a mission by being decoupled from the telescope, allowing a loosening of telescope stability requirements. In doing so, it transfers the difficult technology from the telescope system to a large deployable structure (tens of meters to greater than 100 m in diameter) that must be positioned precisely at a distance of tens of thousands of kilometers from the telescope. We describe in this paper a roadmap to achieving the technological capability to search for biosignatures on an Earth-like exoplanet from a future space telescope. Two of these studies, HabEx and LUVOIR, include the direct imaging of Earth-sized habitable exoplanets as a central science theme.
Searching for evidence of inflation by measuring B-modes in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarization at degree angular scales remains one of the most compelling experimental challenges in cosmology. BICEP2 and the Keck Array are part of a program of experiments at the South Pole whose main goal is to achieve the sensitivity and systematic control necessary for measurements of the tensor-to-scalar ratio at σ(r) ~0:01. Beam imperfections that are not sufficiently accounted for are a potential source of spurious polarization that could interfere with that goal. The strategy of BICEP2 and the Keck Array is to completely characterize their telescopes' polarized beam response with a combination of in-lab, pre-deployment, and on-site calibrations. We Sereport the status of these experiments, focusing on continued improved understanding of their beams. Far-field measurements of the BICEP2 beam with a chopped thermal source, combined with analysis improvements, show that the level of residual beam-induced systematic errors is acceptable for the goal of σ(r) ~ 0:01 measurements. Beam measurements of the Keck Array side lobes helped identify a way to reduce optical loading with interior cold baffles, which we installed in late 2013. These baffles reduced total optical loading, leading to a ~ 10% increase in mapping speed for the 2014 observing season. The sensitivity of the Keck Array continues to improve: for the 2013 season it was 9:5 μK _/s noise equivalent temperature (NET). In 2014 we converted two of the 150-GHz cameras to 100 GHz for foreground separation capability. We have shown that the BICEP2 and the Keck Array telescope technology is sufficient for the goal of σ(r) ~ 0:01 measurements. Furthermore, the program is continuing with BICEP3, a 100-GHz telescope with 2560 detectors.
The inflationary paradigm of the early universe predicts a stochastic background of gravitational waves which would generate a B-mode polarization pattern in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at degree angular scales. Precise measurement of B-modes is one of the most compelling observational goals in modern cosmology. Since 2011, the Keck Array has deployed over 2500 transition edge sensor (TES) bolometer detectors at 100 and 150 GHz to the South Pole in pursuit of degree-scale B-modes, and Bicep3 will follow in 2015 with 2500 more at 100 GHz. Characterizing the spectral response of these detectors is important for controlling systematic effects that could lead to leakage from the temperature to polarization signal, and for understanding potential coupling to atmospheric and astrophysical emission lines. We present complete spectral characterization of the Keck Array detectors, made with a Martin-Puplett Fourier Transform Spectrometer at the South Pole, and preliminary spectra of Bicep3 detectors taken in lab. We show band centers and effective bandwidths for both Keck Array bands, and use models of the atmosphere at the South Pole to cross check our absolute calibration. Our procedure for obtaining interferograms in the field with automated 4-axis coupling to the focal plane represents an important step towards efficient and complete spectral characterization of next-generation instruments more than 10000 detectors.
We present the results of integration and characterization of the Spider instrument after the 2013 pre-flight campaign. Spider is a balloon-borne polarimeter designed to probe the primordial gravitational wave signal in the degree-scale B-mode polarization of the cosmic microwave background. With six independent telescopes housing over 2000 detectors in the 94 GHz and 150 GHz frequency bands, Spider will map 7.5% of the sky with a depth of 11 to 14 μK•arcmin at each frequency, which is a factor of ~5 improvement over Planck. We discuss the integration of the pointing, cryogenic, electronics, and power sub-systems, as well as pre-flight characterization of the detectors and optical systems. Spider is well prepared for a December 2014 flight from Antarctica, and is expected to be limited by astrophysical foreground emission, and not instrumental sensitivity, over the survey region.
We present the second generation BLASTbus electronics. The primary purposes of this system are detector readout, attitude control, and cryogenic housekeeping, for balloon-borne telescopes. Readout of neutron transmutation doped germanium (NTD-Ge) bolometers requires low noise and parallel acquisition of hundreds of analog signals. Controlling a telescope's attitude requires the capability to interface to a wide variety of sensors and motors, and to use them together in a fast, closed loop. To achieve these different goals, the BLASTbus system employs a flexible motherboard-daughterboard architecture. The programmable motherboard features a digital signal processor (DSP) and field-programmable gate array (FPGA), as well as slots for three daughterboards. The daughterboards provide the interface to the outside world, with versions for analog to digital conversion, and optoisolated digital input/output. With the versatility afforded by this design, the BLASTbus also finds uses in cryogenic, thermometry, and power systems. For accurate timing control to tie everything together, the system operates in a fully synchronous manner. BLASTbus electronics have been successfully deployed to the South Pole, and own on stratospheric balloons.
An attitude determination system for balloon-borne experiments is presented. The system provides pointing information in azimuth and elevation for instruments flying on stratospheric balloons over Antarctica. In-flight attitude is given by the real-time combination of readings from star cameras, a magnetometer, sun sensors, GPS, gyroscopes, tilt sensors and an elevation encoder. Post-flight attitude reconstruction is determined from star camera solutions, interpolated by the gyroscopes using an extended Kalman Filter. The multi-sensor system was employed by the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope for Polarimetry (BLASTPol), an experiment that measures polarized thermal emission from interstellar dust clouds. A similar system was designed for the upcoming flight of Spider, a Cosmic Microwave Background polarization experiment. The pointing requirements for these experiments are discussed, as well as the challenges in designing attitude reconstruction systems for high altitude balloon flights. In the 2010 and 2012 BLASTPol flights from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, the system demonstrated an accuracy of < 5’ rms in-flight, and < 5” rms post-flight.
We present the technology and control methods developed for the pointing system of the Spider experiment. Spider is a balloon-borne polarimeter designed to detect the imprint of primordial gravitational waves in the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation. We describe the two main components of the telescope’s azimuth drive: the reaction wheel and the motorized pivot. A 13 kHz PI control loop runs on a digital signal processor, with feedback from fibre optic rate gyroscopes. This system can control azimuthal speed with < 0.02 deg/s RMS error. To control elevation, Spider uses stepper-motor-driven linear actuators to rotate the cryostat, which houses the optical instruments, relative to the outer frame. With the velocity in each axis controlled in this way, higher-level control loops on the onboard flight computers can implement the pointing and scanning observation modes required for the experiment. We have accomplished the non-trivial task of scanning a 5000 lb payload sinusoidally in azimuth at a peak acceleration of 0.8 deg/s2, and a peak speed of 6 deg/s. We can do so while reliably achieving sub-arcminute pointing control accuracy.
We introduce the light-weight carbon fiber and aluminum gondola designed for the Spider balloon-borne telescope. Spider is designed to measure the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation with unprecedented sensitivity and control of systematics in search of the imprint of inflation: a period of exponential expansion in the early Universe. The requirements of this balloon-borne instrument put tight constrains on the mass budget of the payload. The Spider gondola is designed to house the experiment and guarantee its operational and structural integrity during its balloon-borne flight, while using less than 10% of the total mass of the payload. We present a construction method for the gondola based on carbon fiber reinforced polymer tubes with aluminum inserts and aluminum multi-tube joints. We describe the validation of the model through Finite Element Analysis and mechanical tests.
Spider is a balloon-borne array of six telescopes that will observe the Cosmic Microwave Background. The 2624
antenna-coupled bolometers in the instrument will make a polarization map of the CMB with approximately
one-half degree resolution at 145 GHz. Polarization modulation is achieved via a cryogenic sapphire half-wave
plate (HWP) skyward of the primary optic. We have measured millimeter-wave transmission spectra of the
sapphire at room and cryogenic temperatures. The spectra are consistent with our physical optics model, and
the data gives excellent measurements of the indices of A-cut sapphire. We have also taken preliminary spectra of
the integrated HWP, optical system, and detectors in the prototype Spider receiver. We calculate the variation
in response of the HWP between observing the CMB and foreground spectra, and estimate that it should not
limit the Spider constraints on inflation.
Here we describe the design and performance of the SPIDER instrument. SPIDER is a balloon-borne cosmic
microwave background polarization imager that will map part of the sky at 90, 145, and 280 GHz with subdegree
resolution and high sensitivity. This paper discusses the general design principles of the instrument inserts,
mechanical structures, optics, focal plane architecture, thermal architecture, and magnetic shielding of the TES
sensors and SQUID multiplexer. We also describe the optical, noise, and magnetic shielding performance of the
145 GHz prototype instrument insert.
We present a method of cross-calibrating the polarization angle of a polarimeter using Bicep Galactic observations.
Bicep was a ground based experiment using an array of 49 pairs of polarization sensitive bolometers
observing from the geographic South Pole at 100 and 150 GHz. The Bicep polarimeter is calibrated to ±0.01
in cross-polarization and less than ±0.7° in absolute polarization orientation. Bicep observed the temperature
and polarization of the Galactic plane (R.A = 100° ~ 270° and Dec. = -67° ~ -48°). We show that the
statistical error in the 100 GHz Bicep Galaxy map can constrain the polarization angle offset of Wmap W band
to 0.6° ± 1.4°. The expected 1σ errors on the polarization angle cross-calibration for Planck or EPIC are 1.3°
and 0.3° at 100 and 150 GHz, respectively. We also discuss the expected improvement of the Bicep Galactic
field observations with forthcoming Bicep2 and Keck observations.
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 ~8% 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.
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 3He 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.
Spider is a balloon-borne experiment that will measure the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background
over a large fraction of a sky at ~ 1° resolution. Six monochromatic refracting millimeter-wave telescopes with
large arrays of antenna-coupled transition-edge superconducting bolometers will provide system sensitivities of
4.2 and 3.1 μKcmb√s at 100 and 150 GHz, respectively. A rotating half-wave plate will modulate the polarization
sensitivity of each telescope, controlling systematics. Bolometer arrays operating at 225 GHz and 275 GHz will
allow removal of polarized galactic foregrounds. In a 2-6 day first flight from Alice Springs, Australia in 2010,
Spider will map 50% of the sky to a depth necessary to improve our knowledge of the reionization optical depth
by a large factor.
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.