Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Optical design of PICO: A concept for a space mission to probe inflation and cosmic origins

  • Author(s): Young, K;
  • Alvarez, M;
  • Battaglia, N;
  • Bock, J;
  • Borrill, J;
  • Chuss, D;
  • Crill, B;
  • Delabrouille, J;
  • Devlin, M;
  • Fissel, L;
  • Flauger, R;
  • Green, D;
  • Gorski, K;
  • Hanany, S;
  • Hills, R;
  • Hubmayr, J;
  • Johnson, B;
  • Jones, W;
  • Knox, L;
  • Kogut, A;
  • Lawrence, C;
  • Matsumura, T;
  • McGuire, J;
  • McMahon, J;
  • O'Brient, R;
  • Pryke, C;
  • Sutin, BM;
  • Tan, XZ;
  • Trangsrud, A;
  • Wen, Q;
  • De Zotti, G
  • et al.

The Probe of Inflation and Cosmic Origins (PICO) is a probe-class mission concept currently under study by NASA. PICO will probe the physics of the Big Bang and the energy scale of inflation, constrain the sum of neutrino masses, measure the growth of structures in the universe, and constrain its reionization history by making full sky maps of the cosmic microwave background with sensitivity 80 times higher than the Planck space mission. With bands at 21-799 GHz and arcmin resolution at the highest frequencies, PICO will make polarization maps of Galactic synchrotron and dust emission to observe the role of magnetic fields in Milky Way's evolution and star formation. We discuss PICO's optical system, focal plane, and give current best case noise estimates. The optical design is a two-reflector optimized open-Dragone design with a cold aperture stop. It gives a diffraction limited field of view (DLFOV) with throughput of 910 cm2sr at 21 GHz. The large 82 square degree DLFOV hosts 12,996 transition edge sensor bolometers distributed in 21 frequency bands and maintained at 0.1 K. We use focal plane technologies that are currently implemented on operating CMB instruments including three-color multi-chroic pixels and multiplexed readouts. To our knowledge, this is the first use of an open-Dragone design for mm-wave astrophysical observations, and the only monolithic CMB instrument to have such a broad frequency coverage. With current best case estimate polarization depth of 0.65 μKCMB-arcmin over the entire sky, PICO is the most sensitive CMB instrument designed to date.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View