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Balloon-Borne Large-Aperture Submillimeter Telescope: The Next Generation (BLAST-TNG)

A person in a red parka stands on snow in front of a large metallic balloon structure.
Balloon-Borne Large-Aperture Submillimeter Telescope: The Next Generation (BLAST-TNG) 
Credit: Gabriele Coppi

Telescope Details



A stratospheric balloon experiment launched from Antarctica 


To understand the role that magnetic fields play in star formation. 

NIST’s role:

NIST provided three arrays of microwave kinetic inductance detectors (MKIDs) operating over three bands, with a total of more than 3,000 detectors. This was the first flight of these lightweight sensors, which are useful for mapping the sky quickly.

Significant discoveries:

BLAST-TNG experienced a mechanical failure, so the project has been paused.

Other interesting facts:

Because BLAST operates above 99.5% of the atmosphere (which absorbs most of the target radiation), it can make larger and more sensitive maps than telescopes of the same size on the ground.

Supported by:

U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation, NASA and Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility


University of Milano-Bicocca, University of Pennsylvania, Cardiff University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NIST, Queen’s University, University of California San Diego, Arizona State University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Underground Instruments and Max Planck Institute


An octogonal metal plate is displayed with a plaque indicating size.
NIST sensor array
Credit: NIST
Created October 1, 2021, Updated November 3, 2021