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Paper: The Center for Astrophysics in Antarctica
Volume: 73, Airborne Astronomy Symposium on the Galactic Ecosystem: From Gas to Stars to Dust
Page: 669
Authors: Pernic, Robert J.; Harper, D. Al, Jr.; Bausch, Judith A.
Abstract: Nowhere on Earth are the infrared skies clearer, darker, or more stable than on the high Antarctic Plateau. At some wavelengths, Antarctic telescopes may be more than one to two orders of magnitude more efficient than at other sites. However, exploiting these advantages requires first addressing the formidable practical difficulties of working in the remote and frigid polar environment. This was the motivation for the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA), one of twenty-five National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers. At its inception, the Center organized its research into four projects. Three - AST/RO, COBRA, and SPIREX - address key problems in star formation, evolution of galaxies, and the distribution of matter in the early universe. They feature surveys which can be conducted effectively with moderate-size telescopes operated in a highly automated mode. They also explore the potential of the Antarctic Plateau for a broad range of astrophysical research over a spectral range extending from the near-infrared to millimeter wavelengths. A fourth, ATP, was created to obtain quantitative data on the qualities of the South Pole site and to plan for future scientific projects. During the next five years, AST/RO, COBRA, and SPIREX will become operational, and the Center will begin to build a second generation of telescopes which can address a broader range of problems and accommodate a larger community of users.
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