The Next Generation BLAST Experiment

Galitzki, Nicholas, Ade, Peter A. R., Angilè, Francesco E., Ashton, Peter, Beall, James A., Becker, Dan, Bradford, Kristi J., Che, George, Cho, Hsiao-Mei et al (2014) The Next Generation BLAST Experiment. Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation, 03 (02). p. 1440001. ISSN 2251-1717

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The Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope for Polarimetry (BLASTPol) was a suborbital experiment designed to map magnetic fields in order to study their role in star formation processes. BLASTPol made detailed polarization maps of a number of molecular clouds during its successful flights from Antarctica in 2010 and 2012. We present the next-generation BLASTPol instrument (BLAST-TNG) that will build off the success of the previous experiment and continue its role as a unique instrument and a test bed for new technologies. With a 16-fold increase in mapping speed, BLAST-TNG will make larger and deeper maps. Major improvements include a 2.5-m carbon fiber mirror that is 40% wider than the BLASTPol mirror and ~3000 polarization sensitive detectors. BLAST-TNG will observe in three bands at 250, 350, and 500 μm. The telescope will serve as a pathfinder project for microwave kinetic inductance detector (MKID) technology, as applied to feedhorn-coupled submillimeter detector arrays. The liquid helium cooled cryostat will have a 28-day hold time and will utilize a closed-cycle 3He refrigerator to cool the detector arrays to 270 mK. This will enable a detailed mapping of more targets with higher polarization resolution than any other submillimeter experiment to date. BLAST-TNG will also be the first balloon-borne telescope to offer shared risk observing time to the community. This paper outlines the motivation for the project and the instrumental design.

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