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Robust diffraction-limited near-infrared-to-near-ultraviolet wide-field imaging from stratospheric balloon-borne platforms—super-pressure balloon-borne imaging telescope performance.

Romualdez, L. Javier and Benton, Steven J. and Brown, Anthony M. and Clark, Paul and Damaren, Christopher J. and Eifler, Tim and Fraisse, Aurelien A. and Galloway, Mathew N. and Gill, Ajay and Hartley, John W. and Holder, Bradley and Huff, Eric M. and Jauzac, Mathilde and Jones, William C. and Lagattuta, David and Leung, Jason S.-Y. and Li, Lun and Luu, Thuy Vy T. and Massey, Richard J. and McCleary, Jacqueline and Mullaney, James and Nagy, Johanna M. and Netterfield, C. Barth and Redmond, Susan and Rhodes, Jason D. and Schmoll, Jürgen and Shaaban, Mohamed M. and Sirks, Ellen and Tam, Sut-Ieng (2020) 'Robust diffraction-limited near-infrared-to-near-ultraviolet wide-field imaging from stratospheric balloon-borne platforms—super-pressure balloon-borne imaging telescope performance.', Review of scientific instruments., 91 (3). 034501.


At a fraction of the total cost of an equivalent orbital mission, scientific balloon-borne platforms, operating above 99.7% of the Earth’s atmosphere, offer attractive, competitive, and effective observational capabilities—namely, space-like seeing, transmission, and backgrounds—which are well suited for modern astronomy and cosmology. The Super-pressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope (SUPERBIT) is a diffraction-limited, wide-field, 0.5 m telescope capable of exploiting these observing conditions in order to provide exquisite imaging throughout the near-infrared to near-ultraviolet. It utilizes a robust active stabilization system that has consistently demonstrated a 48 mas 1σ sky-fixed pointing stability over multiple 1 h observations at float. This is achieved by actively tracking compound pendulations via a three-axis gimballed platform, which provides sky-fixed telescope stability at < 500 mas and corrects for field rotation, while employing high-bandwidth tip/tilt optics to remove residual disturbances across the science imaging focal plane. SUPERBIT’s performance during the 2019 commissioning flight benefited from a customized high-fidelity science-capable telescope designed with an exceptional thermo- and opto-mechanical stability as well as a tightly constrained static and dynamic coupling between high-rate sensors and telescope optics. At the currently demonstrated level of flight performance, SUPERBIT capabilities now surpass the science requirements for a wide variety of experiments in cosmology, astrophysics, and stellar dynamics.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Publisher's Note: Review of Scientific Instruments 92, 019901 (2021); This article was originally published online on 30 November 2020 with an error throughout the text. The unit arcseconds was changed to inches. All online and printed versions of the article were corrected on 7 December 2020. AIP Publishing apologies for this error.
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Publisher statement:© 2020 American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. The following article appeared in Romualdez, L. Javier, Benton, Steven J., Brown, Anthony M., Clark, Paul, Damaren, Christopher J., Eifler, Tim, Fraisse, Aurelien A., Galloway, Mathew N., Gill, Ajay, Hartley, John W., Holder, Bradley, Huff, Eric M., Jauzac, Mathilde, Jones, William C., Lagattuta, David, Leung, Jason S.-Y., Li, Lun, Luu, Thuy Vy T., Massey, Richard J., McCleary, Jacqueline, Mullaney, James, Nagy, Johanna M., Netterfield, C. Barth, Redmond, Susan, Rhodes, Jason D., Schmoll, Jürgen, Shaaban, Mohamed M., Sirks, Ellen & Tam, Sut-Ieng (2020). Robust diffraction-limited near-infrared-to-near-ultraviolet wide-field imaging from stratospheric balloon-borne platforms—Super-pressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope performance. Review of Scientific Instruments 91(3): 034501 and may be found at
Date accepted:10 February 2020
Date deposited:18 March 2020
Date of first online publication:03 March 2020
Date first made open access:03 March 2021

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