The Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST) Observatory will address key outstanding mysteries in our understanding the interstellar medium. By making sensitive, high-resolution surveys of polarized dust emission in the far-infrared, BLAST Observatory answer the following questions:
1) Does interstellar dust come in distinct compositions, and what are their physical properties?
2) What are the physical properties of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence in the ISM, and what is the dominant mechanism of energy dissipation?
3) What role do magnetic fields play in regulating star formation?
BLAST Observatory will use state-of-the-art arrays of superconducting kinetic inductance detectors with low-power readout and a lightweight mirrors and gondola to make optimal use of NASA’s Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) platform, allowing a mid-latitude flight of 30 days with observational access to a range of star-forming regions in and near the Galactic Plane, high-latitude cirrus, and the Magellanic Clouds. BLAST Observatory will include a 30% time shared-risk program in addition to the legacy surveys. I will discuss both the instrument and the science of BLAST Observatory.