Preflight characterization of the BLAST-TNG receiver and detector arrays

Nathan P. Lourie, Peter A.R. Ade, Francisco E. Angile, Peter C. Ashton, Jason E. Austermann, Mark J. Devlin, Bradley Dober, Nicholas Galitzki, Jiansong Gao, Sam Gordon, Christopher Groppi, Jeffrey Klein, Gene C. Hilton, Johannes Hubmayr, Dale Li, Ian Lowe, Hamdi Mani, Philip Mauskopf, Christopher M. McKenney, Federico NatiGiles Novak, Enzo Pascale, Giampaolo Pisano, Adrian Sinclair, Juan D. Soler, Carole Tucker, Joel N. Ullom, Michael Vissers, Paul A. Williams

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

19 Scopus citations


The Next Generation Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST-TNG) is a submillimeter mapping experiment planned for a 28 day long-duration balloon (LDB) flight from McMurdo Station, Antarctica during the 2018-2019 season. BLAST-TNG will detect submillimeter polarized interstellar dust emission, tracing magnetic fields in galactic molecular clouds. BLAST-TNG will be the first polarimeter with the sensitivity and resolution to probe the ∼0.1 parsec-scale features that are critical to understanding the origin of structures in the interstellar medium. BLAST-TNG features three detector arrays operating at wavelengths of 250, 350, and 500 m (1200, 857, and 600 GHz) comprised of 918, 469, and 272 dual-polarization pixels, respectively. Each pixel is made up of two crossed microwave kinetic inductance detectors (MKIDs). These arrays are cooled to 275 mK in a cryogenic receiver. Each MKID has a different resonant frequency, allowing hundreds of resonators to be read out on a single transmission line. This inherent ability to be frequency-domain multiplexed simplifies the cryogenic readout hardware, but requires careful optical testing to map out the physical location of each resonator on the focal plane. Receiver-level optical testing was carried out using both a cryogenic source mounted to a movable xy-stage with a shutter, and a beam-filling, heated blackbody source able to provide a 10-50 C temperature chop. The focal plane array noise properties, responsivity, polarization efficiency, instrumental polarization were measured. We present the preflight characterization of the BLAST-TNG cryogenic system and array-level optical testing of the MKID detector arrays in the flight receiver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMillimeter, Submillimeter, and Far-Infrared Detectors and Instrumentation for Astronomy IX
EditorsJonas Zmuidzinas, Jian-Rong Gao
ISBN (Print)9781510619692
StatePublished - 2018
EventMillimeter, Submillimeter, and Far-Infrared Detectors and Instrumentation for Astronomy IX 2018 - Austin, United States
Duration: Jun 12 2018Jun 15 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherMillimeter, Submillimeter, and Far-Infrared Detectors and Instrumentation for Astronomy IX 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Cryostat
  • Instrumentation
  • Interstellar medium
  • MKIDs
  • Polarimetry
  • Scientific ballooning
  • Star formation
  • Submillimeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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