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


Studying Background Cosmic Radiation with a balloon

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


The BOOMERanG (Balloon Observations Of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation and Geophysics) programme envisages a series of stratospheric balloon flights for studying the background cosmic radiation of microwaves.  The results of the first flight which took place over the Antarctic in 1998 helped create the first detailed map of the primordial Universe and established its geometry. This led to the cover of Nature in 2000 and wide recognition by the international scientific community for having "photographed" the first moments of the Universe. Afterwards its instruments were modified with the objective of being able to measure the polarization properties of background cosmic radiation and in January 2003 a new flight, once more on a stratospheric balloon over the Antarctic (the B2K mission), was executed.  The BOOMERanG programme is continuing with the preparation of a new flight (the B2K5 mission), planned for 2010 from the Svalbard Islands, for which improvements of the focusing instruments that will enable the achievement of new scientific objectives through the use of 350 GHz revealers are foreseen.

Scientific Objectives
The scientific objective of the B2K5 is the measurement of the polarization of background cosmic radiation and of interstellar dusts emission. Revealing the intrinsic polarization of the microwave background with an improved angle resolution with respect to current experiments will allow studying both the signal produced by gravitational waves during the inflationary phase immediately after the Big Bang and the gravitation lensing effect from the protostructures. Measuring the polarized signal produced by the grains of interstellar dust of our galaxy with great sensitivity is instead important for studying the contamination of the surveys from the ground and from satellites of the rotational component of the cosmic background's polarization field.

Italian Contribution
The BOOMERanG programme is a result of international cooperation in which Italy had a primary role concerning the development of the cryogenic apparatus for cooling the revealers, the gondola, the optics of the telescope and the attitude control system, in addition to the scientific activity of data analysis.  The next flight instead will be completely Italian (PI Paolo de Bernardis of the Physics Department of the Università di Roma "La Sapienza).  The launch will be managed by ASI and international collaboration will be limited to the supply of several elements of the instrumentation and scientific exchange.

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