The preliminary site testing carried out since the beginning of 2008 shows the Antarctic Dome A is very likely to be the
best astronomical site on earth even better than Dome C and suitable for observations ranging from optical wavelength to
infrared and sub-millimeter. After the Chinese Small Telescope Array (CSTAR) which is composed of four small fixed
telescopes with diameter of 145mm and mounted on Dome A in 2008 for site testing and variable star monitor, three
Antarctic Survey Telescopes (AST3) were proposed for observations of supernovas and extrasolar planets searching.
AST3 is composed of 3 large field of view catadioptric telescopes with 500mm entrance diameter and G, R, I filter for
each. The telescopes can point and track autonomously along with a light and foldable dome to keep the snow and icing
build up. A precise auto-focusing mechanism is designed to make the telescope work at the right focus under large
temperature difference. The control and tracking components and assembly were successfully tested at from normal
temperature down to -80 Celsius degree. Testing observations of the first AST3 showed it can deliver good and uniform
images over the field of 8 square degrees. The first telescope was successfully mounted on Dome A in Jan. 2012 and the
automatic observations were started from Mar. 2012.
The first Three Antarctic Survey Telescope (AST3-1), a 50/68cm Schmidt-like equatorial-mount telescope, is the first
automated Chinese telescope operating on the Antarctic plateau. It is planned to be in operations at Dome A, the highest
peak on the Antarctic plateau, in 2012. The telescope is unmanned during night-time operations in the Austral winter.
The telescope optics and mechanics, as well as the motors and position sensors, are exposed to a very harsh environment.
The mechanics is enclosed with a foldable tent-like dome to prevent snow, diamond dust and ice. While the drive boxes,
most circuit, power supply and computers are located inside the warm instrumental cabin. This article describes the
challenges the telescope control system encountered in night-time operations, such as the power supply limit, the harsh
meteorological condition, unattended testing, automatic operation, remote control and telemetry, etc. Some solutions are
also discussed in this paper, which are applied on the AST3-1 and waiting for validation. AST3-1 is also an exploration
of a larger telescope on the Antarctic.