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2023-12-18 20:24:16 by jalbert

The ALTAIR (Airborne Laser for Telescopic Atmosperic Interference Reduction) Project will provide a precision [0(0.1%) uncertainity] optical photometric reference calibration using in-situ-calibrated light sources above the atmosphere.

ALTAIR will develop a novel stratospheric platform with impact across the diverse fields of astronomy, telecommunications, Earth observation, and the science of Earth's atmosphere via inexpensive miniature hand-launched propelled high-altitude balloons which are capable of remaining persistently over a single region of Earth's surface, at altitudes between 12 and 30 km, for approximately a month between launch and descent.  The project will benefit fundamental astronomy and astrophysics by addressing the uncertainties on both optical photometric and microwave polarimetric standards that respectively constitute the dominant uncertainty on knowledge of dark energy from type Ia supernovae, and a major uncertainty in searches for gravitational wave signatures in the polarization pattern of the cosmic microwave background.  This project will reduce these astronomical uncertainties by over an order of magnitude, rendering photometric uncertainty sub-dominant in measurements of dark energy, while training dozens of highly qualified personnel (HQP) with multiple hands-on launches of student-developed equipment to near-space, and also continuously identifying the balloons as fully-safe and fully-licenced to air traffic control via standard aircraft transponder protocols.

Furthermore, by using lightweight balloon-top solar panels and small amounts of real-time, weather-optimized onboard multidirectional propulsion to optimally utilize the fact that winds in the lower stratosphere statistically tend to be opposite in direction to those in the upper troposphere, this cost-effective platform will be able to maintain itself above a region of Earth for a period of approximately a month, be serviced simply, quickly, & cheaply, and then sent promptly back up again, repeatedly and indefinitely.  Thus, this platform will also be able to provide highly-affordable hubs for cellular and remote-region communication; for aerosol & trace gas time-series measurement and sampling for atmospheric science; and for observation and monitoring of ground, ship, & aircraft traffic in the Arctic and elsewhere.  Additionally, this novel non-orbiting propelled balloon-based hub infrastructure will be able to reduce the astronomical light pollution problems created by the proliferation of low-Earth orbiting communications satellites which are increasingly interfering with astronomical imaging, and so, following the achievement of the initial astrophysical and atmospheric science goals, the project will use the unique ability of the platform to persistently remain over a region to provide low-cost miniature stratospheric hubs for Canadian & worldwide regional communication.

Please see the Talks + References link (which will be updated with more recent talks and references soon, apologies for the old talks at that link) for a number of talks and papers about the project and its history.  The ALTAIR project is presently graciously funded by multiple federal agencies in both the U.S. and Canada, which you can see in the links on the left.

The minutes of recent ALTAIR telecons, including some figures and photos, can be found in the links at https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/bin/view/Altair/Forum/ForumGeneral .

Site maintained by Rolf Seuster at the University of Victoria.


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