The optical performance of the PILOT instrument from ground end-to-end tests

R. Misawa, J. Ph Bernard, Y. Longval, I. Ristorcelli, P. Ade, D. Alina, Y. André, J. Aumont, L. Bautista, P. de Bernardis, O. Boulade, F. Bousqet, M. Bouzit, V. Buttice, A. Caillat, M. Chaigneau, M. Charra, B. Crane, F. Douchin, E. DoumayrouJ. P. Dubois, C. Engel, M. Griffin, G. Foenard, S. Grabarnik, P. Hargrave, A. Hughes, R. Laureijs, B. Leriche, S. Maestre, B. Maffei, C. Marty, W. Marty, S. Masi, J. Montel, L. Montier, B. Mot, J. Narbonne, F. Pajot, E. Pérot, J. Pimentao, G. Pisano, N. Ponthieu, L. Rodriguez, G. Roudil, M. Salatino, G. Savini, O. Simonella, M. Saccoccio, J. Tauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Polarized Instrument for Long-wavelength Observation of the Tenuous interstellar medium (PILOT) is a balloon-borne astronomy experiment designed to study the linear polarization of thermal dust emission in two photometric bands centred at wavelengths 240 μm (1.2 THz) and 550 μm (545 GHz), with an angular resolution of a few arcminutes. Several end-to-end tests of the instrument were performed on the ground between 2012 and 2014, in order to prepare for the first scientific flight of the experiment that took place in September 2015 from Timmins, Ontario, Canada. This paper presents the results of those tests, focussing on an evaluation of the instrument’s optical performance. We quantify image quality across the extent of the focal plane, and describe the tests that we conducted to determine the focal plane geometry, the optimal focus position, and sources of internal straylight. We present estimates of the detector response, obtained using an internal calibration source, and estimates of the background intensity and background polarization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-235
Number of pages25
JournalExperimental Astronomy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Far infrared
  • Interstellar dust
  • Optics
  • Point spread function
  • Polarization
  • Straylight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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