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.
We report on the development of scalable prototype microwave kinetic inductance detector (MKID) arrays tai- lored for future multi-kilo-pixel experiments that are designed to simultaneously characterize the polarization properties of both the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and Galactic dust emission. These modular arrays are composed of horn-coupled, polarization-sensitive MKIDs, and each pixel has four detectors: two polariza- tions in two spectral bands between 125 and 280 GHz. A horn is used to feed each array element, and a planar orthomode transducer, composed of two waveguide probe pairs, separates the incoming light into two linear po- larizations. Diplexers composed of resonant-stub band-pass filters separate the radiation into 125 to 170 GHz and 190 to 280 GHz pass bands. The millimeter-wave power is ultimately coupled to a hybrid co-planar waveguide microwave kinetic inductance detector using a novel, broadband circuit developed by our collaboration. Elec- tromagnetic simulations show the expected absorption efficiency of the detector is approximately 90%. Array fabrication will begin in the summer of 2016.
We discuss the design considerations and initial measurements from arrays of dual-polarization, lumped-element
kinetic inductance detectors (LEKIDs) nominally designed for cosmic microwave background (CMB) studies. The
detectors are horn-coupled, and each array element contains two single-polarization LEKIDs, which are made
from thin-film aluminum and optimized for a single spectral band centered on 150 GHz. We are developing two
array architectures, one based on 160 micron thick silicon wafers and the other based on silicon-on-insulator (SOI)
wafers with a 30 micron thick device layer. The 20-element test arrays (40 LEKIDs) are characterized with both
a linearly-polarized electronic millimeter wave source and a thermal source. We present initial measurements
including the noise spectra, noise-equivalent temperature, and responsivity. We discuss future testing and further
design optimizations to be implemented.
We present the results of a feasibility study, which examined deployment of a ground-based millimeter-wave polarimeter, tailored for observing the cosmic microwave background (CMB), to Isi Station in Greenland. The instrument for this study is based on lumped-element kinetic inductance detectors (LEKIDs) and an F/2.4 catoptric, crossed-Dragone telescope with a 500 mm aperture. The telescope is mounted inside the receiver and cooled to < 4 K by a closed-cycle 4He refrigerator to reduce background loading on the detectors. Linearly polarized signals from the sky are modulated with a metal-mesh half-wave plate that is rotated at the aperture stop of the telescope with a hollow-shaft motor based on a superconducting magnetic bearing. The modular detector array design includes at least 2300 LEKIDs, and it can be configured for spectral bands centered on 150 GHz or greater. Our study considered configurations for observing in spectral bands centered on 150, 210 and 267 GHz. The entire polarimeter is mounted on a commercial precision rotary air bearing, which allows fast azimuth scan speeds with negligible vibration and mechanical wear over time. A slip ring provides power to the instrument, enabling circular scans (360 degrees of continuous rotation). This mount, when combined with sky rotation and the latitude of the observation site, produces a hypotrochoid scan pattern, which yields excellent cross-linking and enables 34% of the sky to be observed using a range of constant elevation scans. This scan pattern and sky coverage combined with the beam size (15 arcmin at 150 GHz) makes the instrument sensitive to 5 < ` < 1000 in the angular power spectra.
The Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer (Piper) is a balloon-borne cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarimeter designed to search for evidence of inflation by measuring the large-angular scale CMB polarization signal. Bicep2 recently reported a detection of B-mode power corresponding to the tensor-to-scalar ratio r = 0:2 on 2 degree scales. If the Bicep2 signal is caused by inflationary gravitational waves (IGWs), then there should be a corresponding increase in B-mode power on angular scales larger than 18 degrees. Piper is currently the only suborbital instrument capable of fully testing and extending the Bicep2 results by measuring the B-mode power spectrum on angular scales ϴ =~0:6° to 90°, covering both the reionization bump and recombination peak, with sensitivity to measure the tensor-to-scalar ratio down to r = 0:007, and four frequency bands to distinguish foregrounds. Piper will accomplish this by mapping 85% of the sky in four frequency bands (200, 270, 350, 600 GHz) over a series of 8 conventional balloon flights from the northern and southern hemispheres. The instrument has background-limited sensitivity provided by fully cryogenic (1.5 K) optics focusing the sky signal onto four 32x40-pixel arrays of time-domain multiplexed Transition-Edge Sensor (TES) bolometers held at 140 mK. Polarization sensitivity and systematic control are provided by front-end Variable- delay Polarization Modulators (VPMs), which rapidly modulate only the polarized sky signal at 3 Hz and allow Piper to instantaneously measure the full Stokes vector (I; Q;U; V ) for each pointing. We describe the Piper instrument and progress towards its first flight.
The Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer (PIPER) is a balloon-borne instrument to measure the gravitational wave signature of primordial inflation through its distinctive imprint on the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. PIPER combines cold (1.5 K) optics, 5120 bolometric detectors, and rapid polarization modulation using VPM grids to achieve both high sensitivity and excellent control of systematic errors. A series of flights alternating between northern and southern hemisphere launch sites will produce maps in Stokes I, Q, U, and V parameters at frequencies 200, 270, 350, and 600 GHz (wavelengths 1500, 1100, 850, and 500 μm) covering 85% of the sky. The high sky coverage allows measurement of the primordial B-mode signal in the `reionization bump" at multipole moments l < 10 where the primordial signal may best be distinguished from the cosmological lensing foreground. We describe the PIPER instrument and discuss the current status and expected science returns from the mission.
We present the design and measured performance of the superconducting magnetic bearing (SMB) that was used successfully as the rotation mechanism in the half-wave plate polarimeter of the E and B Experiment (EBEX) during its North American test flight. EBEX is a NASA-supported balloon-borne experiment that is designed to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. In this implementation the half-wave plate is mounted to the rotor of an SMB that is operating at the sink temperature of 4 K. We demonstrate robust, remote operation on a balloon-borne payload, with angular encoding accuracy of 0.01°. We find rotational speed variation to be 0.2% RMS. We measure vibrational modes and find them to be consistent with a simple SMB model. We search for but do not find magnetic field interference in the detectors and readout. We set an upper limit of 3% of the receiver noise level after 5 minutes of integration on such interference. At 2 Hz rotation we measure a power dissipation of 56 mW. If this power dissipation is reduced, such an SMB implementation is a candidate for low-noise space applications because of the absence of stick-slip friction and low wear.