Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (BLAST)
BLAST is a stratospheric balloon-borne 2m telescope which observes the sky with bolometric detectors operating in three, 30% wide, bands at 250μm, 350μm, and 500μm. The diffraction-limited optics are designed to provide BLAST with a resolution of 30", 42", and 60", respectively. The detectors and cold optics are adapted from those to be used on the SPIRE instrument on Herschel.
Photo by M. Halpern
By providing the first sensitive large-area (~0.5-200 sq. deg) submillimeter surveys at these wavelengths, the primary scientific goals of BLAST are to:
- conduct confusion-limited and shallower wide-area extragalactic surveys to constrain the redshift-distribution, star formation history and evolution of optically-obscured luminous galaxies, by measuring photometric-redshifts, and the spatial clustering of this population (Extragalactic Science Introduction);
- to improve our understanding of the earliest stages of star formation by determining the physical properties and mass-function of cold pre-stellar cores, and the efficiency of star formation within different Galactic environments (Galactic Science);
- to investigate the nature and structure of the interstellar medium by making the highest resolution maps to date of diffuse Galactic emission at these wavelengths.
Through its two science flights, BLAST has succeeded in all of these goals!
Visit the official BLAST website to learn more about the project, the science, the people, and download the available publications.