POEMM - a NASA stratospheric balloon mission with TU Delft/SRON detectors

Early July we received the news that the proposal for POEMM, The Planetary Origins and Evolution Multispectral Monochromator (POEMM), was granted. POEMM is a NASA-led long duration balloon mission, flying a 2 m diameter telescope at 45 km altitude above Antarctica using a giant He balloon. The two key new technologies that enable this mission are: 1: The Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (MKIDs) developed in the THz sensing group and SRON, operating in a 35-112 µm band,  and 2)  a so-called Virtual Image Phased Array (VIPA), developed at Cornell University in the USA. The VIPA is an optical element that allows spectroscopy with a resolving power of 100.000 with power detectors such as MKIDs. With this combination POEMM elegantly bypasses the Quantum Limit in sensitivity for radio receivers which are normally used for high resolution spectroscopy. POEMM promises to revolutionize our understanding of planet formation, the evolution of protoplanetary disks (PPDs) and the atmospheres of Solar System giant planets.