Putting SPIDER together

Zigmund Kermish

Zigmund Kermish

Zigmund Kermish is an associate research scholar at Princeton University.

To ship SPIDER to Antarctica, where it will be attached to a balloon and floated over the icy continent to search for signals from the early Universe, the researchers had to break SPIDER into pieces for shipping. They’ve spent the last few weeks putting SPIDER together again. Here is a recap:

Lots of progress has been made over the past few weeks in getting SPIDER put together. I’ve been a bit too busy to blog much, so here’s a short post with photos and commentary in the captions.

We assemble SPIDER’s two main subsystems, the “gondola” and the “cryostat” in parallel.

The gondola provides the structural support for the instrument, hanging points for the balloon, and pointing control systems that allow us to move the telescope in azimuth and elevation (the angles used to define the apparent position of an object in the sky, relative to a specific observation point).

The cryostat provides the very cold temperature needed and contains the guts of the experiment: six independent telescopes that will image the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

The cryostat takes about a week to cool down from room temperature to the very cold temperature of 4 Kelvin (-452 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving lots of time for the gondola assembly and testing of some subsystems before mating the two and starting to integrate the entire experiment. “The lift,” where we hoist over the 3000 pound cryostat (which is relatively full of liquid at this point!) to the gondola for mounting is a nail-biting milestone.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.