Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission (ARCADE) is a program which utilizes high-altitude balloon instrument package intended to measure the heating of the universe by the first stars and galaxies after the big bang and search for the signal of relic decay or annihilation. In July 2006 a very strong radio source was found using the radiometer.
ARCADE viewed about 7% of the sky. The observed region is colored on this all-sky radio map. The plane of our galaxy, the Milky Way, runs across the center.
The craft contained seven radiometers which were cooled to 2.7 K (−270.45 °C; −454.81 °F) using liquid helium, with the intent to measure temperature differences as small as 1/1000 of a degree against a background which is only 3 K (−270.15 °C; −454.27 °F). The optics in the instrument package were placed near the top of the dewar flask which cooled them in order to prevent the instruments from seeing the walls of the container, thereby simplifying the processing of the observational data. This design choice necessitated the use of superfluid pumps in order to drench the radiometers in liquid helium. The design also utilized heaters in order to create a cloud of helium gas, in place of using a (relatively warm) window, which also simplified processing of the observational data.