Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Simons Array/POLARBEAR

A large telescope structure rises from a rocky terrain.
Credit: NASA

Telescope Details



James Ax Observatory at Cerro Toco in the Atacama Desert, Chile


The three telescopes observe the cosmic microwave background to measure patterns from the Big Bang, the early inflation of the universe. Expanding on POLARBEAR, the Simons Array will provide an unmatched combination of mapping speed, multifrequency sensitivity and sky coverage. This provides the opportunity to probe the physics of neutrinos and dark energy, and also allows the removal of the foreground signal to enable precise characterization of the target signs of inflation.  

NIST’s role:

Provided electronics. 

Significant discoveries:

POLARBEAR produced the first direct measurement of the cosmic pattern induced by galaxies twisting radiation, a milestone in confirming understanding of the structure of the universe. 

Other interesting facts:

POLARBEAR’s name has caused rumors and confusion. It’s not located at the South Pole, and there are no polar bears there anyway! (They live near the North Pole.) The name was originally derived from the signal it was looking for: POLARization of Background Radiation.

Funded by:

Simons Foundation


The University of California San Diego leads a research collaboration of 20 institutions.


A black computer chip is attached by wires to red solder pads.
NIST chip that amplifies signals
Credit: NIST
Created October 4, 2021, Updated November 3, 2021