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ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - Mission and Projects ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - Mission and Projects


Background cosmic radiation

Main Theme Background cosmic radiation
Mission Responsibility ASI
Launch Date 2009 and 2010
End of Mission 2012
Current phase Phase C/D


OLIMPO is a long-term stratospheric balloon mission for studying cosmic microwave background and early galaxies.  It will cover a frequency band between 150 and 500 GHz, in four spectral bands measured simultaneously.  They will be optimized to rule out any doubts concerning the nature of the fluctuations in brilliance that have been measured. The angular high resolution that has been achieved thanks to a 2.6 m-in-diameter telescope will open up a new dimension in the study of anisotropies in scales corresponding to the mass galaxy agglomerations. In addition, the spectral cover which goes from 2 mm to 0.5 mm will enable the study of the anisotropy background from early galaxies, thus allowing the investigation of how clustering evolved in the Universe. Two long-term circumpolar stratospheric flights are planned in 2009 and 2010 from the Svalbard Islands in order to achieve scientific objectives.


Scientific Objectives
The scientific objectives of the OLIMPO are:
- measurement of the power spectrum of the anisotropies of  cosmic background at scales between 5 degrees and 1 minute of arc and the resultant determination of cosmological parameters;
- measurement of the Sunyaev-Zeldovich (inverse Compton effect, abbreviated SZ) effect in about 40 galaxy agglomerations for each flight and then the estimate of the Hubble constant;
- measurement of the integrated SZ fluctuations of collections of faraway and unresolved galaxies;
- measurement of the anisotropy of early galaxies' sub-millimetre background and the study of their clustering properties and evolution.

Italian Contribution
Olimpo is an Italian programme.  The PI is Silvia Masi of the Department of Physics of the Università di Roma "La Sapienza", and international collaboration is limited to several elements of the instruments and scientific exchange. ASI will manage the launches.


International Agreements
The agreement with Andoya Rocket Range (Norway) for the development of a launch base for stratospheric balloons to the Svalbard Islands was signed on 21 April 2008. An agreement with Roscosmos for flyover rights over Russian territory is being finalized.