2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2017-2018 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 / Paul Sullivan / Jennifer Blum

Principal Investigator

Dr. Craig Kulesa

University of Arizona Tucson
Steward Observatory
Tucson, Arizona

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: 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

Four participants and a mountaineer will work in McMurdo for a week before deploying to South Pole Station, where they will remain for one week to acclimatize before traveling to Ridge A by Twin Otter aircraft where they will reside in a tent camp and begin the retrograde operations for their equipment. The retrograde activities will require up to five Twin Otter days to remove all items.

Deploying Team Members

  • Craig Kulesa (PI)