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Astrophysics Luncheon Seminar

Weak Lensing from the Next-generation of Balloon-borne Astronomical Platforms: An Instrumentational Overview of and Prospects for the Super-pressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT)
Presented by Javier Romualdez
Institute for Aerospace Studies, University of Toronto

Monday, October 8, 2018
12:00 noon in 169-336

Scientific balloon-borne instrumentation offers an attractive, competitive, and effective alternative to space-borne astronomical facilities when considering the overall cost and development timescale required to design, launch, and operate viable scientific instruments within a truly space-borne regime. Broadly speaking, the balloon-borne environment provides a near-space regime that is well suited for a wide variety of modern astronomical and cosmological observations, where the atmospheric interference suffered by ground-based instrumentation is negligible at stratospheric altitudes. The Super-pressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT) is a scientific balloon-borne payload capable of providing wide-field, diffraction-limited, and persistent imaging in the optical to near-UV bands with the goal of providing weak lensing measurements at a high level of observational efficiency and instrument sensitivity. Specifically, the capabilities of SuperBIT include multiband imaging over entire galaxy clustered regions within a single instrument pointing (30-60 minutes), which, in turn, provides both single-frame shape measurements for dozens of sources across the field-of-view as well as a cohesive set photometric redshift measurements for distance-to-source calibration. Given the unique and harsh uncontrolled dynamics of the balloon-borne environment as well as the strict pointing and image stabilization requirements for diffraction limited imaging (< 50 milliarcseconds), I present the techniques, implementation methodologies, and flight results from the engineering flights of SuperBIT within the context of suitability for weak lensing studies from an instrumentation perspective. Current project status as well as prospects for the next-generation facility-class balloon-borne platforms derived from the SuperBIT instrument design are outlined.

JPL Contact: Jacqueline McCleary (4-9886)

SVCP Astrophysics

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