2012-2013 Science Planning Summaries
U.S. Antarctic Program - Science Support Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
High Elevation Antarctic Terahertz (HEAT) telescopes for Dome A and Ridge A
Antarctica's newest astronomical observatory is a joint collaboration between University of Arizona and the University of New South Wales in Australia. The flying of the SCAR flag (Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research) supplements wind speed and direction obtained from a 15-meter weather tower. Photo Credit: Craig Kulesa. 

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

NSF/PLR Award 0944335

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Paul Sullivan

Dr. Craig Kulesa (Principal Investigator)
http://soral.as.arizona.edu/heat/External Non U.S. Government Site

University of Arizona Tucson
Steward Observatory
Tucson, Arizona

Supporting Stations:  South Pole Station
Research Locations:  Dome A / Ridge A

Project Description:
This project is a joint United States and Australian venture to build and deploy a fully automated 0.6-meter terahertz astronomical observatory for remote operation at Ridge A, which is the highest elevation on the Antarctic Plateau. High Elevation Antarctic Terahertz (HEAT) observes in the 350 micron (0.8 THz) through 150 micron (2 THz) atmospheric windows, the latter of which is unique to Ridge A. The HEAT instrument conducts a Galactic Plane survey of atomic carbon, ionized carbon, and carbon monoxide to explore the galaxy-wide evolution of gas and stars, the formation and destruction of interstellar clouds, and the dynamics of star-forming regions. The telescope is mounted on top of the Australian University of New South Wales' PLATeau Observatory (PLATO) module that provides housing for the instrument's electronics and diesel engines used to generate electrical power during winter observations. PLATO and the telescope operate autonomously for more than a year at a time, with commands and data being transmitted from and to the home institutions daily via Iridium satellites.

Field Season Overview:
This austral summer researchers will deploy the second generation HEAT telescope and refuel and refurbish the Plateau Observatory (PLATO). The field party of American and Australian grantees will be based at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station where they will acclimate while assembling and testing the new instrument. A lesser number of team members will travel to Ridge A by Twin Otter for a 2-4 day field deployment intended to maximize the probability of success given the remoteness of the site, attention to safety, and accounting for difficult working conditions at altitude.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Michael Ashley
  • Colin Bonner
  • Craig Kulesa (PI)
  • Jon Lawrence
  • David Lesser
  • John Storey
  • Abram Young

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Curator: Esther L. Hill PhD, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Alexandra Isern, Office of Polar Programs