A set of six telescopes collectively known as Spider – Sub-orbital Polarimeter for Inflation, Dust and the Epoch
of Re-ionization – will circle Antarctica in a bid to observe a haze of faint, radio microwaves that envelops space.
Such waves are thought to be the fading remnants of the primordial fireball in which it all started 13.8 billion years ago and the exercise would help scientists understand the phenomenon of the Big Bang, the most plausible theory explaining the origin of universe.
The telescopes are designed to detect faint curlicues (a decorative curl or design of an object) in microwaves.
Spider will observe the microwaves in two wavelengths that would allow them to distinguish dust from primordial space-time ripples, said William Jones from the Princeton University in the US. Jones is also the leader of the Spider experiment.
The theory propounds that such curls would have been caused by violent disruptions of the space-time continuum when the universe began expanding.
Spider is the sister experiment to a California Institute of Technology-based project known as Bicep, whose investigators made headlines last spring when they announced that they had recorded curlicues in a patch of the sky from a telescope at the South Pole.
The scientists later, however, had to concede that most or all of their signals could have been caused by interstellar dust.