The Antarctic Site

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The high Antarctic plateau appears to have exceptional observing conditions: low wind speed, poor humidity, good meteo conditions and the possibility to perform observations up to several months long. These conditions promise significant gain over temperate latitude sites. Site-testing campaigns have been undertaken in recent years, first at South Pole [1] with only partially encouraging results. These tests suggested that the highest points of the plateau, such as Domes A and C could offer improved seeing due to lower wind speeds and a thinner inversion layer [2, 3].

Recent measurements at Dome C [4], combining data from MASS (Multi-Aperture Scintillation Sensor) and SODAR (Sonic Detection And

Ranging) report exceptional seeing with a median value of 0.27 arcsec. Moreover, Antarctica is much less dusty than Chilean and Hawaiian summits and could substantially reduce the emissivity of telescope surfaces. These conditions are extremely favourable for infrared observations in particular, where the ambient thermal background usually overpowers the objects studied (see [5] for a review of the current capabilities in infrared astronomy and a comparison with the opportunities presented at Antarctic sites).

Figure 1 shows a simulation of the principal background components (left) and of the total contribution (right) in the NIR-MIR spectral range with a resolving power of 3. The simulations are in agreement with recent semi-empirical models [4] indicating that the atmosphere can be at least a factor of 10 darker than mid-latitude sites.

Figure 1. (left) Separated (zodiacal, telescope + optics, and atmosphere) and (right) total background contribution in a typical camera observation with 3% bandwidth.

Figure 1. (left) Separated (zodiacal, telescope + optics, and atmosphere) and (right) total background contribution in a typical camera observation with 3% bandwidth.

Observations in the NIR bands could also benefit from extremely low humidity and consequent airglow reduction.

The opening of the Italian-French base Concordia at Dome C [6] offers a unique opportunity for the Italian astronomical community. The possible advantages offered by the Antarctic plateau are in someways counterbalanced by the actual difficulties of building and maintaining a telescope in such a remote and severe environment.

A number of issues, both technical and logistical, must be taken into consideration when designing instrumentation for operation in Antarctica. It is the most remote place on Earth. Dome C is particularly remote, being 1200 km inland from Terra Nova Bay; it is more difficult to reach than the coastal regions. Telescopes and instruments must be left without any possible maintenance for long periods during the long Antarctic night. Weather conditions are extremely severe. In wintertime temperatures fall to -90°C, while summer highs are -30°C. These temperatures make both human and instrumentation operations difficult.

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Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable.

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