Following a successful "first-light" four-month observing run, UCSD's POLARBEAR experiment on the Huan Tran Telescope at the James Ax Observatory located in the Inyo National Forest near Bishop, CA, is moving to its permanent location in the Atacama Desert, Chile.
POLARBEAR is a collaboration between UC San Diego,
UC Berkeley, University of Colorado, McGill University, Imperial College, the Japanese High Energy Research Organization, and the University of Paris.
Polarbear's goal is to detect the gravitational waves produced during the era of inflation, shortly after the Big Bang by observing unique patterns of polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation. These gravitational waves would be a telltale sign that inflation indeed took place. Additionally, measurement of the small angular scale polarization patterns have the capability to constrain the properties of Dark Matter and the mass of the neutrinos.
POLARBEAR's receiver is able to detect the polarization of the CMB radiation through an array of over 1200 superconducting transition edge sensor bolometers cooled to 0.25 degrees Kelvin to reduce noise. Many months of observations must be combined to improve the signal to noise enough to observe the desired signals. Atmospheric water vapor is the enemy of ground-based
microwave background measurements, hence the move to one of the driest sites on earth: the Atacama Desert, Chile where at an altitude of 16,500 feet, water vapor is greatly reduced.
The POLARBEAR team has begun decommissioning the temporary observatory in the Inyo mountains which will be reassembled in Atacama for observations starting in early 2011.
Polarbear team members from UC San Diego are David Boettger, George Fuller, Brian Keating, Nathan Miller, Hans Paar, and Ian Schanning.
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Doesn't look too exciting at first glance but it's the start of big things for the project and team!
It's an amazing place to be... very much like being an astronaut on Mars due to the high altitude (17,000') and the terrain. To complete the astronaut analogy most of us need to be on supplemental oxygen most of the time, which makes manual labor quite hard. But it sure beats the alternative!
Thanks to the whole collaboration and especially to the UCSD team (Darcy Barron, Dave Boettger, Frederick Matsuda, Nathan Miller, Stephanie Moyerman, Dr. Nathan Stebor, Praween Siritanasak) for all of their hard work and dedication!
Where do we come from? What is the universe made of? Will the universe exist only for a finite time or will it last forever? These are just some of the questions that University of California, San Diego physicists are working to answer in the high desert of northern Chile.
Armed with a massive 3.5 meter (11.5 foot) diameter telescope designed to measure space-time fluctuations produced immediately after the Big Bang, the research team will soon be one step closer to understanding the origin of the universe. The Simons Foundation has recently awarded the team a $4.3 million grant to build and install two more telescopes. Together, the three telescopes will be known as the Simons Array.
"The Simons Array will inform our knowledge of the universe in a completely new way," said Brian Keating, associate professor of Physics at UC San Diego's Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. Keating will lead the project with Professor Adrian Lee of UC Berkeley.
Fluctuations in space-time, also known as "gravitational waves," are gravitational perturbations that propagate at the speed of light and can penetrate "through" matter, like an x-ray. The gravitational waves are thought to have imprinted the "primordial soup" of matter and photons that later coalesced to become gases, stars and galaxies-all the structures that we now see. The photons left over from the Big Bang will be captured by the telescopes to give scientists a unique view back to the universe's beginning.
The telescopes of the Simons Array-named in recognition of the grant-will focus light onto more than 20,000 detectors, each of which must be cooled nearly to absolute zero. The result will provide an unmatched combination of sensitivity, frequency coverage and sky coverage.
Scholars from San Diego State University to the University of California San Diego to California State University San Marcos are preparing to travel the globe. They will explore subjects as varied as water quality in Uganda to tuberculosis in Brazil to religious issues in Germany.
We've pulled together a sample of the research, some of which will be explained in greater depth this summer in dispatches sent to U-T San Diego by the scientists.
TOM ROCKWELL, seismologist, San Diego State University, will dig trenches on the Sudetic marginal fault in the Czech Republic in early July. He's examining whether the fault is active and could produce future earthquakes, which may have implications for nuclear power plants in Poland.
BIANCA MOTHE, biologist, Cal State San Marcos, will spend much of the spring and summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, studying immune-system responses in patients who are infected with multi-drug and extreme-drug resistant tuberculosis.
DAN CAYAN, research meteorologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, will travel to the Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains in June to explore climate change and variability.
BRIAN KEATING, astrophysicist, UC San Diego, will visit Chile's Atacama Desert in September to study the cosmos from the university's James Ax Observatory, home of the POLARBEAR telescope.
DREW TALLEY, biological oceanographer, University of San Diego, will spend part of June in Bahia San Quintin, Baja California, comparing bivalve populations to historic records from the 1960s
FOREST ROWHER, microbial ecologist, San Diego State, will be diving in the Galapagos, Franz Josef Land (Arctic) and Line Islands in the central Pacific throughout the summer. He will study how human activities increase microbes in the world's oceans.
GENO PAWLAK, mechanical engineer, UC San Diego, will spend part of August and September on the leeward side of Oahu, Hawaii to help improve computerized models that simulate how currents and waves behave when they encounter coral reefs.
MARC MEYERS, materials scientist, UC San Diego, will spend part of August on the Roosevelt River in Brazil trying to obtain the scales of armored catfish, as well as a different fish whose teeth look almost human-like. The goal is to find inspiration for the design of new, better, lighter, tougher and stronger manmade materials.
GEORGE VOURLITIS, ecologist, Cal State San Marcos, will spend part of June and July in Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, Brazil, with undergraduates examining soil fertility and biodiversity in the Brazilian savannah, the country's second-largest and most vulnerable ecosystem.
BETH O'SHEA, geochemist, University of San Diego, will spend part of June at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, studying how arsenic is released from rocks into household well water.
JOHN HAVILAND, linguistic anthropologist, UC San Diego, will spend part of June and July in northeastern Italy analyzing the Rhaeto-Romance language Friulian, and parts of July and August in Chiapas, Mexico, studying a previously unknown sign language in a Tzotzil (Mayan) speaking village.
ANDRE KUNDGEN, mathematician, Cal State San Marcos, will spend June in Copenhagen, Denmark, exploring new directions in the study of graphs on surfaces. He'll work with renowned mathematician Carsten Thomassen.
JULIE JAMESON, biologist, Cal State San Marcos, will visit Manila, Philippines in June to help educators learn better ways to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
ESRA OZYUREK, anthropologist, UC San Diego, will spend July, August and September in Berlin, doing research on Germans who convert to Islam.
PAUL ETZEL, astronomer, San Diego State University, will spent part of the late summer installing the new 50-inch Phillips Claud Telescope on Mt. Laguna. The telescope will greatly improve the university's ability to study deep space.
CAROLYN KURLE, biologist, UC San Diego, will spend the summer working in bays and estuaries in the San Diego area to study how certain pollution from runoff and stream outfalls is becoming incorporated into coastal food webs.
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