2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Sub-orbital Polarimeter for Inflation Dust and the Epoch of Reionization (SPIDER)

SPIDER on the launch vehicle for its first flight, New Year’s Day 2015. Photo by Jeffrey Filippini
A-143-M Research Location(s): McMurdo LDB Site


Event Number:

Program Director:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

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

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Jeffrey Peter Filippini
University of Illinois Urbana
College of Engineering

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo LDB Site


SPIDER is a balloon-borne microwave polarimeter designed to survey the 8 percent of the southern hemisphere that is most free of galactic-dust emission. The primary objective of SPIDER is to study the genesis of the early Universe, probing fundamental physics at energy scales that are far beyond the reach of terrestrial particle accelerators. The main result will be to experimentally validate the simplest Grand Unified Theory (GUT) scale inflationary models or to exclude them, thereby pointing toward a lower energy scale or more complex model space. SPIDER also addresses two secondary science goals. The most immediate of these is to dramatically improve our understanding of the interstellar medium in our own Milky Way Galaxy, especially the nature of diffuse high-latitude dust and its interactions with the large scale magnetic field of the galaxy. Additionally, SPIDER will provide an unambiguous measurement of the weak gravitational lensing of the Cosmic Microwave Background polarization resulting from the integrated distribution of matter along the line of sight to the surface of last scattering.

Field Season Overview

18 people will deploy with the project and will travel daily to the nearby Long Duration Balloon (LDB) site from McMurdo Station. SPIDER will fly from a long duration balloon and is designed to operate autonomously for 24 days. The payload is complex, with long thermal time constants. We therefore anticipate an early deployment to ensure launch readiness in early December.

Deploying Team Members

  • Steven Benton
  • Jeffrey Filippini (PI)
  • Sho Gibbs
  • Suren Gourapura
  • Riccardo Gualtieri
  • Jon Gudmundsson
  • William Jones
  • Jason Leung
  • Lun Li
  • Thuy Luu
  • Jared May
  • Johanna Nagy
  • Alexandra Rahlin
  • Susan Redmond
  • Elle Shaw
  • Corwin Shiu
  • Simon Tartakovsky
  • Joseph van der List