California Institute of Technology

Chajnantor Observatory

Strategic Alliance for the Implementation of New Technologies (SAINT)

Description and Statement of Purpose

The Strategic Alliance for the Implementation of New Technologies (SAINT) is a consortium consisting of groups from the following twelve institutions:

This consortium has been formed to carry out a well-focused attack on fundamental physics problems that can be addressed by observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and of a variety of astrophysical foregrounds; in the CMB we are especially interested in the B-mode CMB that might be a relic of gravitational waves from the epoch of inflation (via the QUIET project, to which eight of the eleven institutions belong).

In order to achieve the CMB-related scientific goals it will be essential to mount a coherent program of detection and analysis of sources of foreground radiation, both galactic and extragalactic. The successful execution of these programs will involve development, testing and commissioning of key technologies – specifically MMIC detectors and arrays, SIS receivers and bolometers, and other promising technologies. Given the experience and expertise of its members, the consortium can mount an unparalleled attack on the key problems of astrophysical foregrounds and the CMB.

In pursuit of these goals the consortium will maintain an existing Test Bed Facility (TBF), established by Caltech at a cost of over $4M, at 16,800 foot altitude on the Llano de Chajnantor in Chile. We expect a steady flow of publications coming from analysis of data taken at the TBF, on both the performance of new devices and science from observations at the TBF.

The TBF is at the best site in the world, which is easily accessible year round, for millimeter and sub-millimeter observations. It includes a triaxial telescope mount, a power plant with two 230 KVa generators, containers housing living quarters for two, including a bathroom and shower, a control building, a laboratory, and a machine shop; and a base rented from a hotel in San Pedro at 9,500 altitude including bedrooms, offices and kitchen. The TBF has an experienced staff of engineers, technicians and a secretary. Most of the living and working spaces at 16,800 feet are oxygenated and have heat and light.

In return for membership in SAINT, Caltech will make the TBF available to participating institutional groups. The monthly operating costs, including salaries, are $33,000. The eleven founding institutions in SAINT will each contribute $36,000 per year to cover these costs. Initial funding will be for three years. If things go well, as expected, additional funding for subsequent three-year periods will be requested. It is anticipated that the lifetime of the SAINT consortium could be 10 years or more. Over such a period, scientific priorities will clearly shift. It is expected that QUIET operations will have priority in the initial years. Caltech, as owner of the facility and as the largest contributor to the facility, will retain the right to bring other (non-SAINT) projects to the TBF on a non-interfering basis with QUIET or other SAINT activities. A committee initially consisting of one representative from each of the eleven institutions will establish a policy for the allocation of engineering and observing time. The SAINT funds will be paid to Caltech, who will continue to manage the site operations.

While the above operating costs are modest, they represent a significant hurdle for new projects wishing to develop technologies that require superb atmospheric conditions. Particularly in today's funding climate, operations costs are difficult to come by when dealing with either the NSF or NASA. By forming this consortium to spread the burden of operations costs of the TBF among eleven institutions, we can place our prototype detectors and other instruments at the TBF at relatively low cost and make our proposals to funding agencies much more competitive.

Lucent Technologies has agreed that the QUIET collaboration can take possession of the Crawford Hill 7m radio telescope currently being used by CAPMAP. We expect to move this telescope to Chajnantor during the first three-year period of the SAINT consortium; among other things it will enable studies of the B-modes caused by gravitational lensing of the CMB.

Withdrawal from SAINT will require notice of one year in order to enable other SAINT members to seek replacement partners and/or additional funding from their own institutions to maintain the SAINT.

SAINT documents