Site testing Dome A, Antarctica

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Recent data have shown that Dome C, on the Antarctic plateau, is an exceptional site for astronomy, with atmospheric conditions superior to those at any existing mid-latitude site. Dome C, however, may not be the best site on the Antarctic plateau for every kind of astronomy. The highest point of the plateau is Dome A, some 800 m higher than Dome C. It should experience colder atmospheric temperatures, lower wind speeds, and a turbulent boundary layer that is confined closer to the ground. The Dome A site was first visited in January 2005 via an overland traverse, conducted by the Polar Research Institute of China. The PRIC plans to return to the site to establish a permanently manned station within the next decade. The University of New South Wales, in collaboration with a number of international institutions, is currently developing a remote automated site testing observatory for deployment to Dome A in the 2007/8 austral summer as part of the International Polar Year. This self-powered observatory will be equipped with a suite of site testing instruments measuring turbulence, optical and infrared sky background, and sub-millimetre transparency. We present here a discussion of the objectives of the site testing campaign and the planned configuration of the observatory.
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Lawrence, J.S.
Ashley, M.C.B.
Burton, Michael
Cui, X.
Everett, A.
Indermuehle, B.T.
Kenyon, S.L.
Luong-Van, D.
Moore, A.M.
Storey, J.W.V.
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty