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.
EBEX-IDS is a balloon-borne polarimeter designed to characterize the polarization of foregrounds and to detect the primordial gravity waves through their B-mode signature on the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). EBEX-IDS will operate 20,562 transition edge sensor (TES) bolometers distributed among 3,427 polarization sensitive sinuous antenna multichroic pixels (SAMP) to observe the CMB in 7 frequency bands between 150 and 360 GHz. In order to maximize the sensitivity of the telescope and take advantage of the lower power emission and absorption of the atmosphere at float, we decrease the average thermal conductance of the bolometers by a factor of 10 compared to ground-based telescopes and observe within higher frequency bands. We use a meandered design with thinner legs to reduce the thermal conductance.
We present prototype pixels which improve the technology readiness for the use of SAMPs in balloon and satellite platforms. We fabricated and tested 150/250/320, 180/250/320 and 220/280/350 GHz SAMPs suitable for EBEX-IDS with specified average thermal conductance of 9 pW/K designed to absorb as little as 0.2 pW at 150 GHz. We report on the characterization of the average thermal conductance, the critical temperature and the time-constant of these pixels as well as the measurement of their noise and optical properties. We also report on the fabrication and testing of a new inductor-capacitor chip operated at 4 K to read out up to 105 bolometers with two wires using the frequency domain multiplexing ICE readout boards. This factor represents an increase of 60% compared to the highest factor used to date with this readout system.
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.