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OLIMPO: a mm and submm telescope on a stratospheric balloon

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· The OLIMPO experiment uses the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) as a backlight to study the largest structures in the Universe. 
· It is optimized to detect the inverse Compton scattering of CMB photons crossing clusters of galaxies (also known as the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect, or SZ). 
 Using the SZ, OLIMPO can detect very distant galaxy clusters, which could not be detected in other ways.
· Additional science targets of OLIMPO are the spectral–spatial anistropies of the CMB and neutrino masses from high-angular resolution maps of the CMB.

Pics of the 2014 OLIMPO integration campaign (Longyearbyen - Svalbard)
olimpo tests

The OLIMPO instrument without sun and ground shields, during a calibration night at the INAF-IAPS facility in Rome (April 25th, 2014) 


· OLIMPO is a mm/sub-mm waves telescope, with a 2.6m diameter primary coupled to four arrays of cryogenic detectors working in the 150, 220, 350, 480 GHz bands. This range extends at high frequency and with similar resolution the observations of 10m-class ground-based telescopes.

· The instrument works at an altitude of 38 km, flying with a stratospheric balloon, in a long-duration circumpolar flight during the arctic summer.

· Taking advantage of the extreme transparency of the stratosphere, OLIMPO uses a differential spectrometer to detect the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect at 30 independent frequencies.

· This results in outstanding capability of extracting the cosmological signal from overwhelming contaminating emission of local origin.

Contacts :

Prof. Silvia Masi - Dipartimento di Fisica, Sapienza Università di Roma

P.le A. Moro 2, 00185 Roma, Italy

Tel.: +39 06 49914271 - Fax: +39 06 4957697 - silvia.masi at

News :

The OLIMPO payload has been fully integrated and tested at the launch site in summer 2014. The Italian Space Agency is working at the organization of a forthcoming balloon launch campaign.


                                                     last update :  Feb. 21th, 2016