Purpose of the flight and payload description

Spider is a balloon-borne experiment designed to search for primordial gravity waves imprinted on the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Measuring the strength of this signal puts limits on inflationary theory.

The Spider instrument (shown in figure at left) consists of six degree-resolution independent monochromatic telescopes cooled to liquid Helium temperature (4 degrees Kelvin). The telescopes which observe at frequencies of 100 GHz, 150 GHz, and 220 GHz (corresponding to wavelengths of 3 mm, 2 mm, and 1.4 mm) are coupled to a polarisation-sensitive transition-edge bolometer array cooled to 250 mK. Each telescope is housed in a single long hold time cryostat and is fully baffled from radiation from the ground and balloon by a lightway stratucture made of thin-foil. The gondola permits the instrument to scan in azimuth with a reaction wheel and a motorized pivot. The cryostat, mounted on bearings, can be adjusted in elevation.

Solar arrays provide power for the instrument and onboard instrumentation.

Video footage of the launch

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 12/21/2022 at 21:25 utc
Launch site: Williams Field, McMurdo Station, Antarctica  
Balloon launched by: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Raven - 34.000.000 cu ft - (0.8 Mil.)
Flight identification number: 727N
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 1/7/2023 at 4:18 utc (L)
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 16 d 7 h
Landing site: Near the Hercules Dome field camp, about 430km from the South Pole

External references

Images of the mission


If you consider this website interesting or useful, you can help me to keep it up and running with a small donation to cover the operational costs. Just the equivalent of the price of a cup of coffee helps a lot.