Future development of the PLATO Observatory for Antarctic science

Ashley, Michael C. B. et al., 2010, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy III, 7735, 773540 | View on ADS (2010SPIE.7735E..40A) | Access via DOI


PLATO is a self-contained robotic observatory built into two 10-foot shipping containers. It has been successfully deployed at Dome A on the Antarctic plateau since January 2008, and has accumulated over 730 days of uptime at the time of writing. PLATO provides 0.5{1kW of continuous electrical power for a year from diesel engines running on Jet-A1, supplemented during the summertime with solar panels. One of the 10-foot shipping containers houses the power system and fuel, the other provides a warm environment for instruments. Two Iridium satellite modems allow 45 MB/day of data to be transferred across the internet. Future enhancements to PLATO, currently in development, include a more modular design, using lithium iron-phosphate batteries, higher power output, and a light-weight low-power version for eld deployment from a Twin Otter aircraft. Technologies used in PLATO include a CAN (Controller Area Network) bus, high-reliability PC/104 com- puters, ultracapacitors for starting the engines, and fault-tolerant redundant design.

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