10 July 2008 Inuksuit: robotic astronomical site-testing stations in the Canadian High Arctic
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Coastal mountains at Canada's northern tip possess many of the desirable properties that make the Antarctic glacial plateau attractive for astronomy: they are cold, high, dry, and in continuous darkness for several months in winter. Satellite images suggest that they should also benefit from clear skies for a fraction of time comparable to the best mid-latitude sites, and conventional site-selection criteria point to good seeing. In order to confirm these conditions, we are testing three mountain sites on northwestern Ellesmere Island, in Nunavut. On each we have installed a compact, autonomous site-testing station consisting of a meteorological station, a simple optical/near-infrared camera for sensing cloud cover, and - at one site - a more advanced all-sky viewing camera. The systems were deployed by helicopter and run on batteries recharged by wind (a compact methanol fuel cell is under study as a supplementary power source). Effective two-way communications via the Iridium satellite network allows a limited number of highly compressed images to be transferred. The full-winter dataset is stored at the site on flash-drives, thus requiring a return visit to retrieve, but day-to-day station performance can be assessed using telemetry and a computer model. Based on site-testing results, the plan is to select one site for the addition of a seeing monitor and a small but scientifically productive telescope.
© (2008) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Eric Steinbring, Eric Steinbring, Brian Leckie, Brian Leckie, Paul Welle, Paul Welle, Tim Hardy, Tim Hardy, Bruce Cole, Bruce Cole, Dell Bayne, Dell Bayne, Bryce Croll, Bryce Croll, David E. Walker, David E. Walker, Raymond G. Carlberg, Raymond G. Carlberg, Gregory G. Fahlman, Gregory G. Fahlman, Brad Wallace, Brad Wallace, Paul Hickson, Paul Hickson, } "Inuksuit: robotic astronomical site-testing stations in the Canadian High Arctic", Proc. SPIE 7012, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes II, 70121V (10 July 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.789531; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.789531

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