Antarctic observations at long wavelengths with the IRAIT-ITM Telescope at Dome C

Durand, Gilles A. et al., 2014, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes V, 9145, 91450D | View on ADS (2014SPIE.9145E..0DD) | Access via DOI


We illustrate the status of the international infra-red telescope IRAIT-ITM, a project developed thanks to an Italian- Spanish-French collaboration and now sited at the Dome C Antarctic base. The telescope and its subsystems were installed at DomeC by a team of Italian and French scientists. The 80 cm telescope is placed on a small snow hill next to a laboratory of astronomy. The operations started in January 2013, with the Nasmyth focal planes equipped with the midinfrared camera AMICA for 1.25 to 25 μm and the sub-millimetre camera CAMISTIC for observation of the sky noise at 200 and 350 μm using a bolometer camera. During 2013 the two winter-overs worked mainly on technological duties, learning how to operate the telescope, while temperatures decreased down to -80°C. The cryogenic systems could be operated respectively at 0.25K and 4K at all times, with satisfactory use of the heat from the compressors of the cryocoolers to the warm-up the laboratory through a closed loop glycol system. The lack of tests and reliability in extreme conditions of some components and difficult access to maintenance hampered regular observations below -50°C. Using the lessons of this first winter, the summer team improves the robustness of the failing systems and ease the access to maintenance. The winter 2014 is the first one with programmed observations. Because of power restrictions, the two instruments are used each one at a time by periods of 2 weeks. The Camistic camera continues to observe the stability of the sky at a fixed altitude in chopping mode and performs skydips. The TCS is being upgraded in order to prepare the next summer season with extensive observations of the sun with Camistic.