Princeton part of $40 million Simons Observatory

PRINCETON RESEARCHERS will have an integral role in the Simons Observatory, a new astronomy facility in South America recently established with a $38.4 million grant from the Simons Foundation. The observatory will investigate cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation to better understand the physics of the Big Bang, the nature of dark energy and dark matter, the properties of neutrinos, and the formation of structure in the universe.

The project is a collaboration between Princeton, the University of California-San Diego, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, all of which will provide financial support. The Heising-Simons Foundation will provide an additional $1.7 million of support. The observatory will be located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, a longtime site for astronomy and CMB research because of its elevation and near absence of precipitation.

The project manager for the Simons Observatory will be located at Princeton, and Princeton faculty also will oversee the development, design, testing and manufacture of many of the observatory’s camera components.

Suzanne Staggs, Princeton’s project lead for the observatory and the Henry DeWolf Smyth Professor of Physics, said the mission of the Simons Observatory builds on the University’s long history of advancing the understanding of the CMB. Princeton faculty members Lyman Page, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Physics and department chair, and David Spergel, the Charles A. Young Professor of Astronomy on the Class of 1897 Foundation, also will participate in the Simons Observatory. –By Staff