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Proceedings Paper

A robotic instrument for measuring high altitude atmospheric turbulence from Dome C, Antarctica
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Paper Abstract

To properly characterize the atmospheric properties of a site for a future large telescope or interferometer, it is insufficient to measure quantities, such as the full-width at half-maximum of a stellar image, that have been integrated over the entire atmosphere. A knowledge of the turbulence distribution as a function of height is necessary, since this affects the ease and degree to which adaptive optics systems can improve the telescope’s resolution. Furthermore, some astronomical measurements, such as narrow-field differential astrometry at microarcsecond precision, depend critically on the amount of turbulence high in the atmosphere (up to 20km). In order to obtain the necessary site-testing data at remote sites such as those on the Antarctic plateau, we have designed a robust and reliable instrument based on an 85 mm refractive telescope, a gimbal-mounted sidereostat mirror, and a Multi-Aperture Scintillation Sensor (MASS). The instrument uses the spatial structure of single-star scintillation to measure vertical turbulence profiles from 0.5 to 20km. The MASS system is designed to operate completely autonomously throughout the Antarctic winter. It also has potential applications at existing observatory sites for quantifying the turbulence characteristics of the atmosphere in real-time.

Paper Details

Date Published: 28 September 2004
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 5489, Ground-based Telescopes, (28 September 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.551017
Show Author Affiliations
Jon S. Lawrence, Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)
Michael C.B. Ashley, Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)
Suze Kenyon, Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)
John W.V. Storey, Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)
Andrei A. Tokovinin, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (Chile)
James P. Lloyd, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Mark R. Swain, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5489:
Ground-based Telescopes
Jacobus M. Oschmann Jr., Editor(s)

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