2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (BLAST-POL)

BLAST - The Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope. BLAST studies star formation in our Galaxy.
Photo by Mark Devlin
A-147-M Research Location(s): McMurdo Station / Long-Duration Balloon Facility


Event Number:
NASA / NSF Agreement

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Kaija Webster / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Mark Devlin
University of Pennsylvania
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Station / Long-Duration Balloon Facility


The Balloon-born Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST) experiment measures polarized dust emission in our galaxy. The asymmetric dust grains are spun up by interacting with ultra-violet photons in star-forming regions. The dust grains can then align with the galactic magnetic field. Since they preferentially emit along their long axis, the dust polarization can be used to map the magnetic fields. Researchers on this project hope to understand the role magnetic fields play in star formation. In addition, they will work to better understand the polarized dust emission as a foreground for current and future cosmic microwave background experiments.

Field Season Overview

BLAST flies as a NASA high-altitude balloon payload. The team will reside at McMurdo Station and make day trips to the Long-Duration Balloon (LDB) launch facility. They require that cryogenic supplies (liquid helium and liquid nitrogen) be available when needed to allow them to get their instrument flight-ready on schedule. After the launch, the team will monitor and control the balloon payload around the clock from office space at McMurdo Station. At flight termination, the team will retrieve their payload to further analyze the acquired data.

Deploying Team Members

  • gabriele Coppi
  • Mark Devlin (PI)
  • Bradley Dober
  • Laura Fissel (Co-PI)
  • Nicholas Galitzki
  • Samual Gordon
  • Nathan Lourie
  • Ian Lowe
  • phillip mauskopf (Co-PI)
  • Federico Nati
  • Giles Novak (Co-PI)
  • Giles Novak (Co-PI)
  • Javier Romualdez
  • Adrian Sinclair
  • Paul Williams