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.

South Pole Telescope

A man in winter gear stands in front of a large dish with a background of snow and blue sky.
NIST’s Hannes Hubmayr at the South Pole Telescope
Credit: NIST

Telescope Details



Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica


With a 10-meter primary mirror, the South Pole Telescope is the largest millimeter-wave telescope dedicated to observing the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and can produce large-scale CMB maps at unparalleled resolution. 

NIST’s role:

NIST has played a significant role in all three generations of SPT cameras, providing sensors and/or electronics to collect sensor data for SPT-SZ, SPTpol, and the current camera, SPT-3G. 

Significant discoveries:

The SPT made the very first detection of the B-mode lensing signal, a pattern that confirms the theory of cosmic inflation, and has discovered thousands of galaxy clusters.

Other interesting facts:

With its unique location, the SPT plays a critical role in achieving the goal of the Event Horizon Telescope network to image the event horizon around the black hole at the center of our galaxy.

Supported by:

National Science Foundation, DOE Office of Science High Energy Physics, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, U.S. Antarctic Program and Antarctic Support Contract


Circular gold-colored plate has seven smaller circles in the center.
South Pole telescope sensor array
Credit: NIST
Created October 7, 2021, Updated November 3, 2021