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SuperBIT: A diffraction-limited to near-ultraviolet wide-field balloon-borne observatory

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Date and time Jul 16, 2020
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Location Zoom meeting

Mohamed Shaaban

University of Toronto

The demand for near-infrared to near-ultraviolet space-based astronomical observations is much higher than what can be supplied by existing and planned space missions. This demand can be eased by utilizing scientific balloon-borne platforms that provide access to space-like seeing and transmission without the prohibitive cost and long development timescale of traditional space missions. The low cost and repeatability of a balloon launch enables a platform to fly yearly, or more often, in order to meet high demand. SuperBIT is a balloon-borne 0.5 m telescope, designed to exploit these space-like conditions to provide a stable diffraction limited resolution over a field of view of 25' by 16'. SuperBIT achieves this resolution by tracking compound pendulations via a three-axis gimballed platform, which provides sky-fixed telescope stability at < 500 milliarcseconds. A high-bandwidth tip/tilt mirror is used to further stabilize the focal plane, achieving an effective 1 sigma pointing stability of 48 milliarcseconds. The telescope is customized to ensure exceptional thermo- and opto-mechanical stability, as well as tight coupling between high-rate sensors and telescope optics. At the current level of flight performance, SuperBIT capabilities meet the specifications for a variety of science goals that include, but are not limited to, obtaining weak-lensing cluster masses for cosmological applications.
Recording: (Video)
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