PILOT (Polarized Instrument for Long wavelength Observation of the Tenuous interstellar medium) is an astrophysical experiment of 1,100 kg on board at 40 km altitude in an 800,000 m3 stratospheric balloon to measure the polarized emission of dust grains from the interstellar medium. The CNES is responsible for the mission, launching and founds the project (2.9ME for CNES/IRAP conventions; consolidated cost CNES/CNRS/CEA of 20ME).
The purpose of the experiment is to measure the polarization of the thermal emission of dust grains present in the interstellar medium at a wavelength of 240 microns. This measurement is complementary to those of the Planck satellite at longer wavelengths. It will allow the geometry measurement of the magnetic field that surrounds the interstellar medium and plays a fundamental role in the formation of structures in general and stars in particular. It will also bring unique constraints on dust physics. Finally, it will better constrain the dependence of polarized emission on wavelength, which is critical for the fine analysis of cosmological data concerning the polarization of the microwave background. http://pilot.irap.omp.eu/PAGE_PILOT/SITE_OFFICIEL/SCIENCE/Objectifs.html_PILOT/SITE_OFFICIEL/SCIENCE/Objectifs.html

Research Group :  MICMAC

  • Scientific Responsible : J-Ph. Bernard
  • Technical Manager : B. Mot

Technical involvement

IRAP is the PI and the prime contractor for the scientific instrument. It coordinates the development of the instrument involving the CEA, the IAS, Cardiff University, the University of Rome and several subcontractors (Sagem Reosc, Microtec,...). IRAP has also developed several subsystems: mechanical structure of the instrument, primary mirror, easement electronics, instrument computer, soil means. He is in charge of the final integration carried out in Toulouse, of the operations related to the instrument in release and flight campaigns as well as the processing of ground and flight data.

Objectives and Planning

After a first flight in September 2015 from Timmins (Canada), the instrument successfully completed its second flight in mid-April 2017 from Alice Springs (Australia). A third flight is planned for the summer/fall of 2019 probably from Timmins (decision on flight 3 to 20 January 2019).
The health tests we have carried out show that the instrument seems intact after landing but to prepare for the third flight we have decided to make some technical corrections. For these flight 3 preparation activities, the instrument that was completely dismantled in the second half of 2017 is being integrated, the good health tests should take place at the IAS in January 2019. In the first half of 2019, end to end tests of the payload must take place at CNES before the nacelle is transported to the field site for its 3rd flight. In parallel with these technical activities, the processing and analysis of the data collected during the first two campaigns continues.

Further Resources

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