2015-2016 Science Planning Summaries
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2015-2016 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Continuing operation of the High Elevation Antarctic Terahertz (HEAT) telescope at Ridge A, Antarctica

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Meghan Walker / Paul Sullivan

Principal Investigator

Dr. Craig Kulesa

University of Arizona Tucson
Steward Observatory
Tucson, Arizona

Project Web Site:
http://soral.as.arizona.edu/heat/ External Web Site


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


Stars within the Milky Way are formed when giant gas clouds, composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, collapse under their own gravity, thus heating up the gas to the point where nuclear fusion is triggered, and stars are formed. The life cycles of these interstellar clouds drive the internal evolution of all galaxies. This HEAT's science team studied the earliest stages of the formation of these clouds by observing the spectra from certain atomic and molecular species, which serve as tracers of these clouds. Outside of space, the Antarctic plateau on which the HEAT telescope is located is one of the few places on Earth that these observations can be made.

Field Season Overview

This project will continue operation and maintenance for the High Elevation Antarctic Terahertz Telescope (HEAT) and Plateau Observatory (PLATO-R). Team members will travel via LC-130 aircraft from McMurdo to South Pole Station. After acclimation, preparing the replacement HEAT cryostat, and testing PLATO-R components, two science participants and an ASC mountaineer/field coordinator will be transported by Twin Otter aircraft to Ridge A. The team will tent camp at Ridge A for approximately one week to service the telescope and observatory. An LC-130 fuel drop will occur in early December to support this project. The two science participants will also working on another project in McMurdo, A-136-M , both before and after their South Pole deployment, if time allows.

Deploying Team Members

  • Craig Kulesa (PI)
  • David Lesser