Astronomy in Antarctica, current projects, future goals and challenges
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
If you were to ask an astronomer to define the perfect place to locate a telescope, they'd tell you tohave it somewhere cold, dark, at high-altitude, with a local climate that contained dry stable air. Inshort, Antarctica.In New Zealand for example adverse effects, such as the movement air in our atmosphere, can causeimages to wiggle and warp, such as the observable twinkling of a star in the night sky. Antarcticastronomy, including the operation of the South Pole Telescope, located at Amundsen Station, canlargely overcome these problems. In taking advantage of the cold dark skies, these telescopes areable to probe the deep reaches of space, in order to answer some of the fundamental questionsrelated to the universe, including the search for theoretical dark matter and dark energy. Other lessconventional astronomy related projects in Antarctica include the 'Ice Cube array'. This uses ultrasensitivelight detectors, buried over a mile deep in the Antarctic ice sheet, to detect high-energyneutrinos that were created by the most violent events in the universe, which allow astronomers tovisualize distant cosmic events by detecting the neutrinos they create. Other scoping studies havehave identified several high altitude sites in East Antarctica such as those at Dome A and 'Dome C'where there is the potential to locate a very large optical or Infra-Red telescope for the search of earth-like planets in other solar systems. Housing such complex equipment in these remote areas, aswell as keeping the stations supplied and maintained, is not a simple task and this review willexamine the science produced, technical challenges that have to be overcome, potentialenvironmental impacts, as well as examining whether the science produced is worth the costs andresources involved.
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