SPIDER is a balloon-borne instrument that will be launched in December and will fly above Antarctica, its telescopes and cameras turned toward the skies to observe the faint signatures left over from the Big Bang.
SPIDER’s telescopes need to operate at very cold temperatures, so they are housed in a large, liquid helium-cooled “cryostat,” an apparatus for maintaining a very low temperature. Built at Princeton, the cryostat is known to the researchers as “Theo” (although they haven’t yet said why). Theo holds nearly 1200 liters of liquid helium, enough to last through a 20 day flight before it all boils off and the system warms up.
In this post, the SPIDER team has installed the science instruments at the heart of the cryostat, and now they must seal everything with multiple layers of cryogenic shielding. This time-lapse video shows two days of closing up the SPIDER cryostat reduced to a 5 minute video.