Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Submillimeter Telescope - The Next Generation
February 4, 2020 - The first flight of BLAST-TNG is providing valuable test data despite the occurrence of a mechanical failure 14 hours after launch - recovery of the experiment is underway and we are eager to complete data analysis and begin rebuilding for future flights!
BLAST-TNG is a new telescope designed to observe the polarized thermal emission from interstellar dust. The data it collects will provide new insight into the properties of dust and the role of magnetic fields in the interstellar medium through a wide range of densities. BLAST-TNG will produce several-degree-scale polarimetric maps at sub-arcminute resolution, making simultaneous measurements in its 3 broad bands centered at 250, 350, and 500 μm. The new instrument will launch aboard a stratospheric balloon from Antarctica with a flight duration of 28 days. Of this time, 25% will be made available to the community for shared risk proposals.
At 6:10 PM local time on January 6 of this year, BLAST-TNG began its first flight. Most of our systems worked flawlessly and we carried out the first-ever observations using microwave kinetic inductance detectors (MKIDs) from a NASA sub-orbital platform. However, a mechanical failure occurred 14 hours into the flight, … Continue reading
We carried out six launch attempts between December 25 and January 4 – these six were canceled due to high or unsteady low-level winds. Photo is from December 28 when we made it as far as the launch pad. The stratospheric circulation pattern is expected to die out in a … Continue reading
We attached our experiment to the NASA launch vehicle and worked with NASA engineers to look for interference between NASA’s communications and control systems and our experiment’s functions. No problems were found – we are flight ready! Now all depends on the weather. Fingers crossed for a launch opportunity soon!
BLAST-TNG goes outside for communications tests – which were successful! Our team has been very busy over the past several weeks. We’ve cooled our 850 lbs. cryogenic polarimeter (red object in photo), mounted it back onto the telescope, and carried out numerous systems tests. We are nearly flight ready, and … Continue reading
First BLAST-TNG collaborators arrive in Antarctica to take the experiment out of storage and prepare it for a December launch! This photo, taken from the C-17, shows our team’s first view of Antarctica in almost a year. Its been a long wait following last year’s bad weather and four scrubbed … Continue reading
Ian and Nate were the first of the BLAST team to arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand! The first order of business is a trip to the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) clothing distribution center to get all the extreme cold weather (ECW) gear needed for living and working in Antarctica! … Continue reading
Yesterday was the busiest day here at CSBF for the BLAST team, so we decided to take a group photo of almost all the team. Not only the team was almost completed but also BLAST starts to be almost all mounted, we added the scoop and the readout system on … Continue reading
After several days that Nate and I discussed about writing a blog and publishing more photos of our life in the high bay at CSBF, I finally found 10 minutes to do so. After 2 weeks we did a lot of progress, and I think that there is no better way to start our blog that publishing a time lapse of a critical day like today. We transfer liquid helium, so now Layla is cooling down to 4K, we installed the mirrors and for the first time we rotate them. It is a great achievement and everything went fine.
In the future, I will publish more photos than the one that you see on Instagram.