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Detecting faint traces of universe's explosive birth is aim of NSF-supported Advanced Simons Observatory

An observatory at night against a background of the Milky Way.

The Simons Observatory investigates the cosmic microwave background radiation.

May 10, 2023

The enhanced observatory will be used to analyze previously undetectable traces of background radiation created billions of years ago during the Big Bang.

A remote, high-altitude astronomy observatory will conduct the most detailed investigation yet of the universe's origins, with upgrades provided by a $52.7 million investment from the U.S. National Science Foundation. In partnership with the Simons Foundation, the NSF grant will expand the Simons Observatory in the high Atacama Desert of Chile to become the Advanced Simons Observatory. NSF's grant will be administered by the University of Pennsylvania and will fund 30,000 additional radio frequency detectors, a new data pipeline and a sustainable, solar energy-based electrical system.

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The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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