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Touring the Bicep2 Microwave Telescope with Physicist Jonathan Kaufman

South Pole is home to many, many world-class science experiments, laboratories, and telescopes. One such telescope is the Bicep2 Microwave Telescope. On the ice this year working on the hardware and software is Physicist Jonathan Kaufman. Yesterday, Jon was nice enough to give me a quick tour of the telescope and lab, as well as an opportunity to see them send the liquid helium dewier off to the Cryogenics Lab for a refill. Here’s video of Jon giving a tour, and photos of the dewier.

About Bicep2, from Caltech:

The primary goal of BICEP2 is to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The CMB is a nearly perfect, uniform black body at 2.7 K, with degree-scale temperature anisotropy of about 0.1 mK and polarization on the order of microkelvin. This radiation was emitted 380,000 years after the Big Bang, at the time of recombination, when the Universe first became transparent to light. The temperature anisotropy and polarization of the CMB are some of the most powerful ways of understanding the early Universe. Cosmologists believe the Universe experienced a rapid period of cosmic inflation during its first fraction of a second, exponentially expanding from a dense, hot subatomic volume. Many models of inflation predict that this rapid acceleration would have generated gravitational waves that would remain energetic enough 380,000 years later to leave an imprint on the CMB. BICEP2 is searching for this imprint by measuring the pure-curl component of the CMB polarization on degree angular scales, which is largely free of contamination from sources other than primordial gravitational waves.

More on Bicep, Bicep2, and Keck from Christopher Sheehy. (PDF Link)

Snowmobiling out to the Bicep2 Telescope’s Lab, which also shares space with the South Pole Telescope.

2012-11-20 Bicep2 - IMG_0813-1600-80

Liquid Helium dewier, and Jon

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Looking off the roof of the Bicep2 across to the SPT

2012-11-20 Bicep2 - IMG_0841-1600-80

Lowering the dewier

2012-11-20 Bicep2 - IMG_0865-1600-80

Bicep2

2012-11-20 Bicep2 - IMG_0891-1600-80