PILOT (Polarized Instrument for Long wavelength Observations of the Tenuous interstellar medium) is a balloonborne astronomy experiment designed to study the polarization of dust emission in the diffuse interstellar medium in our Galaxy. The PILOT instrument allows observations at wavelengths 240 μm and 550 μm with an angular resolution of about two arcminutes. The observations performed during the two first flights performed from Timmins, Ontario Canada, and from Alice-springs, Australia, respectively in September 2015 and in April 2017 have demonstrated the good performances of the instrument. Pilot optics is composed of an off axis Gregorian type telescope combined with a refractive re-imager system. All optical elements, except the primary mirror, which is at ambient temperature, are inside a cryostat and cooled down to 3K. The whole optical system is aligned on ground at room temperature using dedicated means and procedures in order to keep the tight requirements on the focus position and ensure the instrument optical performances during the various phases of a flight. We’ll present the optical performances and the firsts results obtained during the two first flight campaigns. The talk describes the system analysis, the alignment methods, and finally the inflight performances.
PILOT is a balloon borne experiment, which will measure the polarized emission of dust grains, in the interstellar medium, in the sub millimeter range (with two photometric channels centered at 240 and 550 μm).
The primary and secondary mirror must be positioned with accuracies better than 0.6 mm and 0.06°. These tolerances include environmental conditions (mainly gravity and thermo-elastic effects), uncertainties on alignments, and uncertainties on the dilatation coefficient. In order to respect these tolerances, we need precise characterization of each optical component. The characterization of the primary mirror and the integrated instrument is performed using a dedicated submillimeter test bench.
A brief description of the scientific objectives and instrumental concept is given in the first part. We present, in the second and in the third part, the status of these ground tests, first results and planned tests.
PILOT (Polarized Instrument for the Long-wavelength Observations of the Tenuous ISM), is a balloon-borne astronomy experiment dedicated to study the polarization of dust emission from the diffuse ISM in our Galaxy . The observations of PILOT have two major scientific objectives. Firstly, they will allow us to constrain the large-scale geometry of the magnetic field in our Galaxy and to study in details the alignment properties of dust grains with respect to the magnetic field. In this domain, the measurements of PILOT will complement those of the Planck satellite at longer wavelengths. In particular, they will bring information at a better angular resolution, which is critical in crowded regions such as the Galactic plane. They will allow us to better understand how the magnetic field is shaping the ISM material on large scale in molecular clouds, and the role it plays in the gravitational collapse leading to star formation. Secondly, the PILOT observations will allow us to measure for the first time the polarized dust emission towards the most diffuse regions of the sky, where the measurements are the most easily interpreted in terms of the physics of dust. In this particular domain, PILOT will play a role for future CMB missions similar to that played by the Archeops experiment for Planck. The results of PILOT will allow us to gain knowledge about the magnetic properties of dust grains and about the structure of the magnetic field in the diffuse ISM that is necessary to a precise foreground subtraction in future polarized CMB measurements. The PILOT measurements, combined with those of Planck at longer wavelengths, will therefore allow us to further constrain the dust models. The outcome of such studies will likely impact the instrumental and technical choices for the future space missions dedicated to CMB polarization.
The PILOT instrument will allow observations in two photometric channels at wavelengths 240 μm and 550 μm, with an angular resolution of a few arcminutes. We will make use of large format bolometer arrays, developed for the PACS instrument on board the Herschel satellite. With 1024 detectors per photometric channel and photometric band optimized for the measurement of dust emission, PILOT is likely to become the most sensitive experiment for this type of measurements. The PILOT experiment will take advantage of the large gain in sensitivity allowed by the use of large format, filled bolometer arrays at frequencies more favorable to the detection of dust emission.
This paper presents the optical design, optical characterization and its performance. We begin with a presentation of the instrument and the optical system and then we summarise the main optical tests performed. In section III, we present preliminary end-to-end test results.
PILOT (Polarized Instrument for Long wavelength Observations of the Tenuous interstellar medium) is a balloonborne astronomy experiment designed to study the polarization of dust emission in the diffuse interstellar medium in our Galaxy. The PILOT instrument allows observations at wavelengths 240 μm (1.2THz) with an angular resolution about two arc-minutes. The observations performed during the first flight in September 2015 at Timmins, Ontario Canada, have demonstrated the optical performances of the instrument.
PILOT is a balloon-borne astronomy experiment designed to study the polarization of dust emission in the diffuse
interstellar medium in our Galaxy at wavelengths 240 μm with an angular resolution about two arcminutes. Pilot optics
is composed an off-axis Gregorian type telescope and a refractive re-imager system. All optical elements, except the
primary mirror, are in a cryostat cooled to 3K. We combined the optical, 3D dimensional measurement methods and
thermo-elastic modeling to perform the optical alignment. The talk describes the system analysis, the alignment
procedure, and finally the performances obtained during the first flight in September 2015.
PILOT is a stratospheric experiment designed to measure the polarization of dust FIR emission, towards the diffuse interstellar medium. The first PILOT flight was carried out from Timmins in Ontario-Canada on September 20th 2015. The flight has been part of a launch campaign operated by the CNES, which has allowed to launch 4 experiments, including PILOT. The purpose of this paper is to describe the performance of the instrument in flight and to perform a first comparison with those achieved during ground tests. The analysis of the flight data is on-going, in particular the identification of instrumental systematic effects, the minimization of their impact and the quantification of their remaining effect on the polarization data. At the end of this paper, we shortly illustrate the quality of the scientific observations obtained during this first flight, at the current stage of systematic effect removal.
The Polarized Instrument for Long wavelength Observation of the Tenuous interstellar medium (PILOT) is a balloon borne experiment designed to measure the polarized emission from dust grains in the galaxy in the submillimeter range. The payload is composed of a telescope at the optical focus of which is placed a camera using 2048 bolometers cooled to 300 mK. The camera performs polarized optical measurements in two spectral bands (240 μm and 550 μm). The polarization measurement is based on a cryogenic rotating half-wave plate and a fixed mesh grid polarizer placed at 45o separating the beam into two orthogonal polarized components each detected by a detector array. The Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale (Orsay, France) is responsible for the design, integration, tests and spectral calibration of the camera. Two optical benches have been designed for its imaging and polarization characterization and spectral calibration. Theses setups allow to validate the alignment of the camera cryogenic optics, to check the optical quality of the images, to characterize the time and intensity response of the detectors, and to measure the overall spectral response. A numerical photometric model of the instrument was developed for the optical configuration during calibration tests (spectral), functional tests (imager) on the ground, and flight configuration at the telescope focus, giving an estimate of the optical power received by the detectors for each configuration.