Balloon-Borne Anisotropy Measurement (BAM)

BAM is a collaboration between Brown University and the University of British Columbia.

BAM is designed to measure the anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at intermediate angular scales.  The novelty of BAM lies in using a cryogenic Fourier Transform Spectrometer as a receiver.  BAM flew in 1996 and 1998 from the what was then called The National Scientific Balloon Facility (NSBF) in Palestine, Texas.  After the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy, NSBF was renamed The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility.  Below are some links to images showing flight preparations at NSBF.

2 September 1998 - We flew on August 25.  A successful flight with 5 hours at float.
The instrument was recovered with minimal damage (The crush pads actually crushed!)
Pictures below:

The label on the balloon box (not a child's toy)
Notice the weight and volume of the balloon.  NOTE: MCF stands for millions of cubic feet.

BAM on the launchpad
The balloon during inflation.
Seconds before the launch

Seconds after launch.  From the bottom of the instrument to the top of the balloon measures about 1000 ft!
The NSBF personnel carefully monitor the status of the balloon.
Smiles from part of the BAM team after a long flight.

23 August 1998 - We rolled out to the launch pad today and got through our instrument checkout, but then the wind picked up a little too much and the launch was scrubbed.  We hope to try again tomorrow evening.  Some pictures from the aborted launch attempt:

BAM on Tiny Tim - the not so tiny launch vehicle
Some members of the BAM team  waiting for the launch that never came.
A crowd gathered to watch the launch

26 August 1998 - Almost flight ready.  Pictures from last week below.

Testing the pointing system on stars
Making rollbars for the gondola

CMB groups at NSBF.
Groups measuring the anisotropy of the CMB have taken over NSBF!
The picture show members of the BAM, Maxima and Boomerang experiments.

Transfering liquid helium into the spectrometer dewar.
Have to be careful unpacking boxes!
One of Peter's artistic pictures


This is a picture of the BAM instrument as it appeared before its first flight in July 1995.
You can click on the thumbnail image to get a larger image.

Last updated:  July 2002