UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Submillimeter Telescope for polarization: BLAST-pol. Marsden, Gaelen; Chapin, Edward; Halpern, Mark; Scott, Douglas


The Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST) is a sub-orbital experiment designed to study the process of star formation in local galaxies (including the Milky Way) and in galaxies at cosmological distances. Using a 2m Cassegrain telescope, BLAST images the sky onto a focal plane, which consists of 270 bolometric detectors split between three arrays, observing simultaneously in 30% wide bands, centered at 250, 350, and 500 μm. The diffraction-limited optical system provides a resolution of 30" at 250 μm. The pointing system enables raster-like scans with a positional accuracy of ~30", reconstructed to better than 5" rms in postflight analysis. BLAST had two successful flights, from the Arctic in 2005, and from Antarctica in 2006, which provided the first high-resolution and large-area (~0.8−200 deg2) submillimeter surveys at these wavelengths. As a pathfinder for the SPIRE instrument on Herschel, BLAST shares with the ESA satellite similar focal plane technology and scientific motivation. A third flight in 2009 will see the instrument modified to be polarization-sensitive (BLAST-pol). With its unprecedented mapping speed and resolution, BLAST-pol will provide insights into Galactic star-forming nurseries, and give the necessary link between the larger, coarse resolution surveys and the narrow, resolved observations of star-forming structures from space and ground based instruments being commissioned in the next 5 years. Copyright 2008 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited

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