PLATO - the next-generation AASTINO for robotic site-testing on the Antarctic plateau

Hengst, S. et al., 2006, IAU Special Session, 7, 32 | View on ADS (2006IAUSS...7E..32H)


A new site-testing facility, PLATO (Plateau Observatory), is under development at UNSW for deployment to remote sites on the Antarctic Plateau including Dome A. The new facility will adopt many of the features of the AASTINO (Automated Astrophysical Site Testing InterNational Observatory) facility at Dome C. PLATO will autonomously control a flexible site testing and observing instrument suite, monitored via the Iridium satellite network. A challenging aspect of PLATO is to maximise the reliability of the power source while minimising fuel consumption. We are building a low pressure, low temperature environmental chamber to simulate operation at the highest altitudes (4,100 m at Dome A). Two types of engines will be tested: a single-cylinder diesel engine and a Stirling engine.

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