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RE: Plateau Observatory
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Title: Astronomy in Antarctica
Authors: Michael G. Burton

Antarctica provides a unique environment for astronomy. The cold, dry and stable air found above the high plateau, as well as the pure ice below, offers new opportunities across the photon & particle spectrum. The summits of the plateau provide the best seeing conditions, the darkest skies and the most transparent atmosphere of any earth-based observing site. Astronomical activities are now underway at four plateau sites: the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Concordia Station at Dome C, Kunlun Station at Dome A and Fuji Station at Dome F, in addition to long duration ballooning from the coastal station of McMurdo. Astronomy conducted includes optical, IR, THz & sub-mm, measurements of the CMBR, solar, as well as high energy astrophysics involving measurement of cosmic rays, gamma rays and neutrinos. Antarctica is also the richest source of meteorites on our planet. An extensive range of site testing measurements have been made over the high plateau. We summarise the facets of Antarctica that are driving developments in astronomy, and review the results of the site testing experiments undertaken to quantify those characteristics of the plateau relevant for it pursuit. We outline the historical development of the astronomy on the continent, and then review the principal scientific results to have emerged over the past three decades of activity in the discipline. We discuss how science is conducted in Antarctica, and in particular the difficulties, as well as the advantages, faced by astronomers seeking to bring their experiments there. We also review some of the political issues that will be encountered, both at national and international level. Finally, we discuss where Antarctic astronomy may be heading in the coming decade, in particular plans for IR & THz astronomy, including new facilities being considered for these wavebands at high plateau stations.

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Scientists Exiling Robots to Lonely, Desolate Work Camps

When scientists need to research a frigid, barren wasteland so inhospitable that humans stand no chance of survival, what do they do? Dispatch enslaved, persecuted, and voiceless robots, of course. With its excessively dry climate, low wind, and low atmospheric turbulence, Antarctica provides ideal star-gazing opportunities, but its negative-130-degree temperatures and geographical inaccessibility obviously make the job incredibly difficult for people.
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Antarctic Schmidt Telescopes 3
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China to Build Telescope Network in Antartica
Chinese astronomers will set up a stronger telescope network on Dome A, the top of the south pole, after the initial success in January, 2008, an astronomer said at a recent symposium.
Gong Xuefei, an astronomer involved in the telescope project, said at a cross-Straits forum on astronomical instruments that the new telescopes are being tested and the first of them is expected to be installed in the south pole in summers of 2010 and 2011.


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AST3
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China is to establish an upgraded telescope network on Dome Argus (Dome A), at the South Pole.
According to astronomer Gong Xuefei, who is part of the project and an associate researcher at the Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics and Technology (NIAOT), the new Antarctic Schmidt telescopes (AST3) are currently being tested and will be transported to the South Pole site during the summer in 2010 and 2011.
The telescope network comprise of three 50 cm Schmidt telescopes each of field of view of about 10 square degrees. The network will replace the previous network, the Chinese Small Telescope Array (CSTAR), which consists of four 14.5 cm aperture telescopes.

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Antarctic plateau
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Possibly the clearest skies on Earth have been found - but to exploit them, astronomers will have to set up a telescope in one of the planet's harshest climates.
Michael Ashley of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and his colleagues wanted to find the best sites for astronomy on the Antarctic plateau. Combining observations from satellites and ground stations with climate models, they evaluated different factors that affect telescope vision, such as the amount of water vapour, wind speeds and atmospheric turbulence.
The team found that the plateau offers world-beating atmospheric conditions - as long as telescopes are raised above its frozen surface.

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Title: Where is the best site on Earth? Domes A, B, C and F, and Ridges A and B
Authors: Will Saunders, Jon S. Lawrence, John W.V. Storey, Michael C.B. Ashley, Seiji Kato, Patrick Minnis, David M. Winker, Guiping Liu, Craig Kulesa

The Antarctic plateau contains the best sites on earth for many forms of astronomy, but none of the existing bases were selected with astronomy as the primary motivation. In this paper, we try to systematically compare the merits of potential observatory sites. We include South Pole, Domes A, C and F, and also Ridge B (running NE from Dome A), and what we call 'Ridge A' (running SW from Dome A). Our analysis combines satellite data, published results and atmospheric models, to compare the boundary layer, weather, free atmosphere, sky brightness, precipitable water vapour, and surface temperature at each site. We find that all Antarctic sites are likely compromised for optical work by airglow and aurorae. Of the sites with existing bases, Dome A is the best overall; but we find that Ridge A offers an even better site. We also find that Dome F is a remarkably good site. Dome C is less good as a thermal infrared or terahertz site, but would be able to take advantage of a predicted 'OH hole' over Antarctica during Spring.

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Dome A
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China will do preparatory work for the drilling of deep Antarctic glacier ice core at Dome Argus (Dome A) in 2010, a scientist said here Friday.
In China's 26th Antarctic scientific expedition next year, scientists will build deep drilling work shop and install drilling machines, said Li Yuansheng, head of China's Kunlun Station, the country's first research station on the continent's inland.

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Cosmology from Antarctica
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Title: Cosmology from Antarctica
Authors: Robert W. Wilson, Antony A. Stark

Observation of the CMB is central to observational cosmology, and the Antarctic Plateau is an exceptionally good site for this work. The first attempt at CMB observations from the Plateau was an expedition to the South Pole in December 1986 by the Radio Physics Research group at Bell Laboratories. Sky noise and opacity were measured. The results were sufficiently encouraging that in the Austral summer of 1988-1989, three CMB groups participated in the "Cucumber" campaign, where a temporary site dedicated to CMB anisotropy measurements was set up 2 km from South Pole Station. Winter-time observations became possible with the establishment in 1990 of the Centre for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center. CARA developed year-round observing facilities in the "Dark Sector", a section of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station dedicated to astronomical observations. CARA scientists fielded several astronomical instruments: AST/RO, SPIREX, White Dish, Python, Viper, ACBAR, and DASI. By 2001, data from CARA, together with BOOMERANG, a CMB experiment on a long-duration balloon launched from McMurdo Station on the coast of Antarctica, showed clear evidence that the overall geometry of the Universe is flat, as opposed to being positively or negatively curved. In 2002, the DASI group reported the detection of polarisation in the CMB. These observations strongly support the concordance model of cosmology, where the dynamics of a flat Universe are dominated by forces exerted by the Dark Energy and Dark Matter. The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a newly-operational 10 m diameter offset telescope designed to rapidly measure anisotropies on scales much smaller than 1 degree.

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A robotic observatory atop a plateau in eastern Antarctica has shut down after an exhaust leak caused its generator module to overheat. A Chinese expedition installed the PLATeau Observatory (PLATO) in January at Dome A, the highest point in eastern Antarctica at 4,100 metres altitude. The observatory had operated continuously for 204 days before the leak. It is hoped that solar power will revive some of PLATO's instruments by the end of August, as spring nears.

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