List of cosmic microwave background experiments

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A comparison of the sensitivity of WMAP with COBE and Penzias and Wilson's telescope, simulated data, see Table for abbreviations.[citation needed]

This list presents an compilation of experiments from 1964 to the present to measure the Cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation anisotropies and polarization since its first observation in Penzias and Wilson, and therefore includes an array of ground-, balloon-, and space-based experiments.[not verified in body]


There have been a variety of experiments to measure the Cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation anisotropies and polarization since its first observation in 1964 by Penzias and Wilson. These include a mix of ground-, balloon- and space-based receivers.

Experimental design[edit]

The design of cosmic microwave background experiments is a very challenging task. The greatest problems are the receivers, the telescope optics and the atmosphere. Many improved microwave amplifier technologies have been designed for microwave background applications. Some technologies used are HEMT, MMIC, SIS and bolometers. Experiments generally use elaborate cryogenic systems to keep the amplifiers cool. Often, experiments are interferometers which only measure the spatial fluctuations in signals on the sky, and are insensitive to the average 2.7 K background.

Another problem is the 1/f noise intrinsic to all detectors. Usually the experimental scan strategy is designed to minimize the effect of such noise. To minimize side lobes, microwave optics usually utilize elaborate lenses and feed horns. Finally, in ground-based (and, to an extent, balloon-based) instruments, the atmosphere is an issue because water absorbs microwave radiation;[1] hence, it is, in particular, rather difficult to observe microwave background with ground-based instruments. CMB research therefore makes increasing use of air- and space-borne experiments, with ground-based observations being limited to dry, high altitude locations such as the Chilean Andes and the South Pole.

Notable experiments[edit]

The most notable experiments in the list are COBE, which first detected the temperature anisotropies of the CMB, and showed that it had a black body spectrum;[according to whom?] DASI, which first detected the polarization signal from the CMB;[according to whom?] CBI, which made high-resolution observations and obtained the first E-mode polarization spectrum;[according to whom?] WMAP;[why?][according to whom?] and the Planck spacecraft, which has produced the highest resolution all-sky map to-date of both the temperature anisotropies and polarization signals.[according to whom?] In addition to these there are various important ground-based experiments[clarification needed][according to whom?] primarily intended to investigate small-scale anisotropies and trying to detect the polarization caused by gravitational waves in the early universe.

Further reading[edit]

  • NASA, 2015, "Hosted Data on LAMBDA: CMB Experiments," see [1], accessed 27 March 2015.


  1. ^ Advantage is taken of this physical phenomenon in the design of microwave ovens.[citation needed]

Tabulation of experiments[edit]

The list below consists of a partial list of past, current and planned CMB experiments. The name, start and end years of each experiment are given, followed by the basis of the experiment—whether space, balloon or ground based—and the location where appropriate. The frequency and amplifier technologies used are given, as is the main targets of the experiments.

Image Name Start End Basis Location Frequency (GHz) Detector technology Targets References
Advanced Cosmic Microwave Explorer (ACME)
1988 1996 Ground 26–35; 38–45 HEMT Temperature anisotropies [1]
Antarctic Plateau Anisotropy Chasing Experiment (APACHE) 1995 1996 Ground Antarctic 100, 150, 250 Bolometer Temperature anisotropies [1][dead link]
Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission (ARCADE) 2001 Balloon 3, 5, 7, 10, 30, 90 HEMT CMB Spectrum [1][dead link]
Archeops Archeops 1999 2002 Balloon 143, 217, 353, 545 Bolometer Measured large and intermediate scale with improved precision at the larger scales. [1][dead link]
Arcminute Cosmology Bolometer Array Receiver (ACBAR) 2001 Ground 150, 219, 274 Bolometer Temperature anisotropies [1][dead link]
AMI Arcminute Microkelvin Imager (AMI) 2005 Ground UK: Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory 12-18 Interferometer SZ effect, Temperature anisotropies [1][dead link]
ARGO 1988, 1990, 1993 1993 Balloon 150-600 Bolometer [1][dead link]
AMiBA Array for Microwave Background Anisotropy (AMiBA) 2002 Ground Hawaii: Mauna Loa 86-102 Interferometer/MMIC SZ effect; Polarization [1][dead link][2][non-primary source needed][3][non-primary source needed]
ABS Atacama B-Mode Search (ABS) 2012 Ground Chile: Atacama Desert 150 Bolometer Polarization [1][dead link]
ACT Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) 2007 Ground Chile: Atacama Desert 145, 225, 265 Bolometer Temperature anisotropies [1][dead link]
APEX Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) 2005 Ground 150, 217 Bolometer Temperature anisotropies; SZ effect [1][dead link]
ATCA Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) 1991 1997 Ground 8.7 HEMT [1][dead link]
Background Emission Anisotropy Scanning Telescope (BEAST) 2000 Balloon, Ground 25-35; 38-45 HEMT A ground single dish CMB observatory at the University of California's White Mountain Peak Research station. [1][dead link]
Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization (BICEP) 2006 2008 Ground South Pole 100, 150 Bolometer Will measure large scale polarization with improved precision. [1][dead link]
Balloon-borne Anisotropy Measurement (BAM) 1995 1998 Balloon UBC Balloon Expt 110-250 Spectrometer Used differential Fourier Transform Spectrometer to measure degree scale anisotropy [1][dead link]
Balloon-borne Radiometers for Sky Polarisation Observations (BaR-SPoRT) Future Balloon 32, 90 Polarizer / OMT [1][dead link]
Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association (BIMA) 1986 2004 Ground 70-116; 210-270 SIS [1][dead link]
BOOMERanG BOOMERanG experiment 1997 2003 Balloon Long-duration balloon above Antarctica 90-420 Bolometer Measured intermediate scale fluctuations with improved precision. [1][dead link]
B-mode RAdiation INterferometer (BRAIN) Never Ground Dome-C, Antarctica [citation needed]
Clover Never Ground 97, 150, 230 Bolometer Will measure the small scale fluctuations with improved precision, and the B-mode polarization. [1][dead link]
Cobra 1982 1990 Sounding Rocket University of British Columbia 15-800 Bolometers/ FTS Measured spectrum of CMB [1][dead link]
Cosmic Anisotropy Polarization Mapper (CAPMAP) 2002 Ground 40, 90 MMIC/HEMT [1][dead link]
Cosmic Anisotropy Telescope (CAT) 1994 1997 Ground Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory 13-17 Interferometer / HEMT Measured the very small scale fluctuations in small regions of the sky. [1][dead link]
CBI Cosmic Background Imager (CBI) 2002 2008 Ground Llano de Chajnantor Observatory, Chile 26-36 HEMT Measured the very small scale fluctuations with improved precision in small regions of the sky and polarization of CMB. [1][dead link]
CLASS Experiment Site Rendering Feb 2014 Cosmology Large Angular Scale Surveyor (CLASS) 2015 - Ground Llano de Chajnantor Observatory, Chile 40, 90, 150, 220 TES Bolometer B-mode polarization signal at multipoles from 2 to 100 [citation needed]
COSMOSOMAS 1998 Ground Teide Observatory, Tenerife, Spain 10-18 HEMT Circular scanning experiments for CMB and foregrounds in Tenerife. [1][dead link]
COBE Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) 1989 1993 Space Earth orbit Temperature anisotropies [1][dead link]
Cosmological Gene 1999 Ground 0.6 to 32 HEMT [1][dead link]
Degree Angular Scale Interferometer (DASI) 1999 2003 Ground 26-36 HEMT A temperature and polarization telescope at the South Pole. [1][dead link]
The E and B Experiment (EBEX) Future Balloon Antarctica 150-450 Bolometer Detection of the inflationary gravitational-wave background (IGB) signal is a primary goal of the EBEX experiment [1][dead link]
Far Infra-Red Survey (FIRS) 1989 1989 Balloon 170-680 Bolometer [1][dead link]
KU-band Polarization IDentifier (KUPID) 2003 Ground 12-18 HEMT [1][dead link]
Medium Scale Anisotropy Measurement (MSAM) 1992 1997 Balloon 150-650 Bolometer [1][dead link]
MAXIMA Millimeter Anisotropy eXperiment IMaging Array (MAXIMA) 1995, 1998, 1999 1999 Balloon Near Palestine, Texas 150-420 Bolometer Measured intermediate scale fluctuations with improved precision. [1][dead link]
Millimeter Interferometer (MINT) 2001 2002 Ground Cerro Toco, Chile 145 SIS [4][non-primary source needed]
Millimeter-Wave Bolometric Interferometer (MBI-B) Future Ground 90 Bolometer [1][dead link]
Mobile Anisotropy Telescope (MAT) 1997, 1998 1998 Ground 30-140 HEMT / SIS [1][dead link]
Polarization Observations of Large Angular Regions (POLAR) 2000 2000 Ground 26-46 HEMT [1][dead link]
Polarbear POLARBEAR 2011 Ground Chajnantor plateau (Chile) 150 Antenna-coupled TES CMB Polarization. Primordial and lensed B-modes. [1][dead link]
Polatron Never Ground 100 Bolometer [1][dead link]
Princeton I, Q, and U Experiment (PIQUE) 2002 2002 Balloon 90 Bolometer [1][dead link]
Python 1992 1997 Ground 30-90 HEMT / Bolometer [1][dead link]
QMAP 1996 1996 Ground 30-140 HEMT / SIS [1][dead link]
QUaD QUaD 2005 2007 Ground South Pole 100, 150 Bolometer Measured intermediate scale polarization with improved precision. [1][dead link]
Qubic Future Ground 97, 150, 230 Bolometer Will measure the B-mode polarization on intermediate scale. [citation needed]
Q/U Imaging ExperimenT (QUIET) 2008 Ground Llano de Chajnantor Observatory, Chile 40, 90 HEMT [1][dead link]
RELIKT-1 1983 1984 Space Earth orbit Temperature anisotropies [1][dead link]
Saskatoon experiment 1993 1995 Ground Saskatchewan 26-46 HEMT [1][dead link]
Sky Polarization Observatory (SPOrt) Cancelled Space International Space Station Polarization [1][dead link]
South Pole Telescope 2006 Ground South Pole Will measure the small scale fluctuations and polarization. [1][dead link]
SPIDER 2011 Balloon 90, 150, 220 Bolometer Will measure very large scale polarization. [citation needed]
SZA Sunyaev-Zeldovich Array (SZA) 2004 2008 Ground Owens Valley Radio Observatory 26-36; 85-115 Interferometer Produced sensitive CMB anisotropy constraints at l ~ 4000, measured the SZ effect in 100s of galaxy clusters. Now part of CARMA [1][dead link]
Sunyaev-Zeldovich Infrared Experiment (SuZIE) 1996 Ground 150, 220, 350 Bolometer SZ effect [1][dead link]
Tenerife Experiment 1984 2000 Ground Tenerife 10, 15, 33 HEMT [1][dead link]
TopHat 2002 Balloon 150-720 Bolometer [1][dead link]
Very Small Array 2002 2008 Ground 26-36 Interferometer / HEMT Measured intermediate and small scale fluctuations with improved precision in small regions of the sky. [1][dead link]
WMAP Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) 2001 2010 Space Lagrange 2 23-94 HEMT Temperature anisotropies; Polarization [1][dead link]
Planck 2009 2013 Space Lagrange 2 30-857 HEMT / Bolometer Polarization; Temperature anisotropies; Foregrounds [1][dead link]

Table sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba "LAMBDA — CMB Experiment Sites". 18 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-19. [dead link][dead link]
  2. ^ Ho, Paul et al. (2008). "The Yuan-Tseh Lee Array for Microwave Background Anisotropy". arXiv:0810.1871. Bibcode:2009ApJ...694.1610H. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/694/2/1610. [non-primary source needed]
  3. ^ Wu, Jiun-Huei Proty et al. (2008). "AMiBA Observations, Data Analysis and Results for Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effects". arXiv:0810.1015. Bibcode:2008arXiv0810.1015W. [non-primary source needed]
  4. ^ Fowler et al. (2005). "CMB Observations with a Compact Heterogeneous 150 GHz Interferometer in Chile". arXiv:astro-ph/0403137. Bibcode:2005ApJS..156....1F. doi:10.1086/426393. [non-primary source needed]