The site of Simons Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

The site of Simons Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile. (Credit: UC San Diego)

The Simons Observatory, a Berkeley Lab-involved project under construction in Chile’s Atacama Desert that will measure the properties of universe’s early light – the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – with extreme precision, has received a new commitment of $20 million from the Simons Foundation.

The foundation, which supports basic scientific research with grants and through in-house research, had previously committed $60 million toward the project. The new commitment, which will support the observatory’s operations, will be paid over a period of five years beginning in 2022.

A key objective of the observatory is to search for the signature of gravitational waves generated in the moment immediately following the Big Bang that may be visible as polarization patterns in the CMB.

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley are participants in the international collaboration supporting the project.

“The new commitment is a huge boost for the Simons Observatory, which will look back to the moment of the Big Bang and give us insight to the nature of dark matter and dark energy,” said Adrian Lee, a Berkeley Lab physicist and UC Berkeley professor who is spokesperson for the Simons Observatory.

Read the full release from UC San Diego here.