2019-2020 USAP Field Season
Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (BLAST-POL)
Dr. Mark Devlin
Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
The Balloon-born Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST) experiment measures polarized dust emissions 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
Sixteen team members will reside at McMurdo Station and make day trips to the Long-Duration Balloon (LDB) launch facility to prepare the BLAST high-altitude balloon payload for launch. They will use liquid helium and liquid nitrogen 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 use aircraft or traverse resources to retrieve the payload for additional data analysis.
Deploying Team Members