Dome A, Antarctica: Prospectives for Terahertz Astronomy from the Ground

Kulesa, C. A. et al., 2008, Ninteenth International Symposium on Space Terahertz Technology, 390 | View on ADS (2008stt..conf..390K)


Over a decade of site testing and operation of submillimeter telescopes has shown that the high Antarctic Plateau (South Pole) and Chilean Atacama desert (Chajnantor) are exceptional ground-based sites for submillimeter and terahertz astronomy. The highest sites at both locations (Dome A and the Chajnantor and Sairecabur summits) show great promise in yielding even more favorable conditions. To test the conditions at Dome A, we have deployed Pre-HEAT, a 20 cm aperture submillimeter-wave telescope with a 660 GHz (450 micron) Schottky diode heterodyne receiver and digital FFT spectrometer for the Plateau Observatory (PLATO) developed by the University of New South Wales. In January 2008 it was deployed to Dome A, the summit of the Antarctic plateau, as part of a scientific traverse led by the Polar Research Institute of China. Dome A may be one of the best sites in the world for ground based Terahertz astronomy, based on the exceptionally cold, dry and stable conditions which prevail there. Pre-HEAT is measuring the 450 micron sky opacity at Dome A and mapping the Galactic Plane in the 13 CO J=6-5 line, constituting the first submillimeter measurements from Dome A. It is field-testing many of the key technologies for its name sake, a successor mission called HEAT: the High Elevation Antarctic Terahertz telescope. Exciting prospects for submillimeter astronomy from Dome A and the status of Pre-HEAT will be presented.

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