2019-2020 Science Planning Summaries
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2019-2020 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

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

Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (BLAST-POL)
A-147-M Research Location(s): Long Duration Balloon Facility


Event Number:

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


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


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

  • James Aguirre
  • Peter Ashton
  • gabriele Coppi
  • Anthony Corso
  • Mark Devlin (PI)
  • Laura Fissel
  • Samual Gordon
  • Nathan Lourie
  • Ian Lowe
  • phillip mauskopf (Co-PI)
  • Federico Nati
  • Giles Novak (Co-PI)
  • Giles Novak (Co-PI)
  • Javier Romualdez
  • Adrian Sinclair
  • Caleb Wheeler
  • Paul Williams