2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Aeronomy & Astrophysics

Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 99-80654
Station: McMurdo Station
RPSC POC: Ron Nugent
Research Site(s): Williams Field

BOOMERanG (Balloon Observations of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation and Geophysics): A balloon-borne measurement of polarization in the cosmic microwave background
Dr. John Ruhl
University of California Santa Barbara
Department of Physics
Dr. Paolo de Bernardis
Universita'degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza"
Dr. Adrian T. Lee
University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Barth Netterfield
University of Toronto
Dr. Phil Mauskopf
Cardiff University
Dr. Silvia Masi
Universita'degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza"

Deploying Team Members: Paolo D Bernardis . Andrea Boscaleri . Brendan P Crill . Eric Francois A Hivon . Armando Iacoangelli . Bill Jones . Theodore S Kisner . Andrew Lange . Carolyn Mactavish . Silvia Masi . Phil Mauskopf . Thomas E Montroy . Barth Netterfield . Enzo Pascale . Francesco Piacentini . John E Ruhl . Giuseppe D Stefano . James Watt
Research Objectives: Cosmic microwave background (CMB) provides a view of the early universe. It shows astronomical objects as they were in the past because of the time it takes light to travel across space. For example, an observer on Earth sees the sun as it was eight minutes ago because it takes light eight minutes to travel the distance. From Earth, the nearest star appears as it was four years ago and the appearance of the Andromeda galaxy is 2 million years behind "real" time. Looking far away in distance then, is equivalent to looking far back in time. Since the CMB is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, in a similar way it offers a glimpse into the universe billions of years ago, to a time before the first stars and galaxies were formed, when the universe was only a few hundred thousand years old.

BOOMERanG (Balloon Observations of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation and Geophysics) is a millimeter-wave sensitive telescope designed to image CMB radiation. It is carried aloft by a balloon that will be launched from the Williams Field Balloon Integration Facility and flown around Antarctica under a long duration stratospheric balloon. During this flight, researchers will also attempt to measure the polarization of the CMB.

Field Season Overview:
Of the approximately 20 BOOMERanG team members, 14 are on site at any one time. Seven participants are sponsored by the Italian Antarctic Program.

NASA's National Scientific Balloon Facility (NSBF) will assist project team members in launching, tracking, and recovering the balloon-borne BOOMERanG instrumentation. The long-duration, stratospheric helium balloon is launched from Williams Field and will circumnavigate the continent. NSBF personnel monitor the balloon's flight from helicopter, Twin Otter or LC-130 aircraft. When the balloon returns to the McMurdo area, NSBF staff will terminate the flight by radio commands sent to the gondola. They will recover the instrument, data, and, if possible, the gondola.