Inflight performance of the PILOT balloon-borne experiment

A. Mangilli, G. Foënard, J. Aumont, A. Hughes, B. Mot, J. Ph Bernard, A. Lacourt, I. Ristorcelli, L. Montier, Y. Longval, P. Ade, Y. André, L. Bautista, P. deBernardis, O. Boulade, F. Bousqet, M. Bouzit, N. Bray, V. Buttice, M. CharraM. Chaigneau, B. Crane, E. Doumayrou, J. P. Dubois, X. Dupac, C. Engel, P. Etcheto, Ph Gelot, M. Griffin, S. Grabarnik, P. Hargrave, Y. Lepennec, R. Laureijs, B. Leriche, S. Maestre, B. Maffei, J. Martignac, C. Marty, W. Marty, S. Masi, F. Mirc, R. Misawa, J. M. Nicot, J. Montel, J. Narbonne, F. Pajot, E. Pérot, G. Parot, J. Pimentao, G. Pisano, N. Ponthieu, L. Rodriguez, G. Roudil, H. Roussel, M. Salatino, G. Savini, O. Simonella, M. Saccoccio, S. Stever, P. Tapie, J. Tauber, C. Tibbs, C. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Polarized Instrument for Long-wavelength Observation of the Tenuous interstellar medium (PILOT) is a balloon-borne experiment that aims to measure the polarized emission of thermal dust at a wavelength of 240 µm (1.2 THz). A first PILOT flight of the experiment took place from Timmins, Ontario, Canada, in September 2015 and a second flight took place from Alice Springs, Australia in April 2017. In this paper, we present the inflight performance of the instrument. Here we concentrate on the instrument performance as measured during the second flight, but refer to the performance observed during the first flight, if it was significantly different. We present a short description of the instrument and the flights. We measure the time constants of the detectors using the decay of the observed signal during flight following high energy particle impacts (glitches) and switching off the instrument’s internal calibration source. We use these time constants to deconvolve the timelines and analyze the optical quality of the instrument as measured on planets. We then analyze the structure and polarization of the instrumental background. We measure the detector response flat field and its time variations using the signal from the residual atmosphere and from the internal calibration source. Finally, we analyze the spectral and temporal properties of the detector noise. The inflight performance is found to be satisfactory and globally in line with expectations from ground calibrations. We conclude by assessing the expected inflight sensitivity of the instrument in light of the measured inflight performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-295
Number of pages31
JournalExperimental Astronomy
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Background
  • Far infrared
  • Glitches
  • Inflight performances
  • Interstellar dust
  • Point spread function
  • Pointing
  • Polarization
  • Responses
  • Straylight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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