Magazine Fall 2023 Elevated Research

Students Work at Chilean Telescopes

Students Work at Chilean Telescopes

At 17,000 feet in Chile’s Atacama Desert, Jen Ito, assistant professor of physics, and two of her research students worked on the Simons Array, a set of three telescopes that study the cosmic microwave background. Michael Lew ’24 and Jacob Nelson ’24 were the first undergraduates in more than a decade to work on the array, part of an experiment to learn more about the universe’s early history.

Each telescope houses a camera, called a cryogenic receiver, with internal temperatures as low as a fraction of a degree above absolute zero (-459 °F).

Ito, who worked on the telescopes as a graduate student at UC San Diego, has continued to collaborate with her colleagues to calibrate and prepare the telescopes for scientific observations since coming to Westmont in fall 2022.

She spoke about “Asteroids and Exoplanets” in a Westmont Downtown lecture in October.