Steven Benton

Steven Benton is a Dicke postdoctoral fellow studying cosmology. His primary interest is in balloon astrophysics: creating telescopes that operate in the space-like environment provided by high altitude balloons. He works in the group of Professor William Jones on the SPIDER and SuperBIT experiments.

SPIDER makes precise polarization measurements of the cosmic microwave background, covering about 10% of the sky. It is searching for the "B-mode" signature of primordial gravitational waves, which can inform what happened immediately after the big bang. Its first flight was for 16 days in January 2015. Steven splits his time between data analysis and preparation for a second flight.

SuperBIT is a high-resolution wide-field visible-light telescope. During a 100-day ultra-long-duration flight it will make weak lensing measurements of the mass distributions in hundreds of galaxy clusters. In the near future, telescopes like SuperBIT could compete with the Hubble Space Telescope. Steven joined the SuperBIT team in preparation for its one-night test flight in July 2016.

Steven started design and development for SPIDER as a graduate student with Professor Barth Netterfield at the University of Toronto. He did similar work for the BLAST-Pol telescope for its 2010 and 2012 flights, as well as data analysis. He has provided electronics and support to several SPIDER-like telescopes at the south pole: BICEP2, BICEP3, and the Keck Array.