SOPHOS -- SOuth Pole High-altitude ObServatory: Site, Telescope, and Aerostat

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Session 10 -- South Polar and Lunar Telescopes
Display presentation, Wednesday, January 12, 9:30-6:45, Salons I/II Room (Crystal Gateway)

[10.07] SOPHOS -- SOuth Pole High-altitude ObServatory: Site, Telescope, and Aerostat

P.Bely, R.Burg, J.Crocker (STScI), H.Ford (JHU), J.Tilly (Ball Aerospace)

SOPHOS is an aerostat-borne, sparsely filled 6-meter optical telescope that we plan to fly in Antartica. In winter, Antarctica offers the coldest and driest conditions of any place on earth. In addition, because of the particular circulation of the atmosphere at the pole, air turbulence is at an unusual minimum. We will present our estimates of infrared transparency and seeing conditions as a function of altitude based on modeling and meteorological radiosonde measurements. We will also compare these estimates to the corresponding values at an excellent astronomical site such as Mauna Kea, both at ground level and high altitude.

We also present some of the technical aspects of the proposed sparsely filled 6-meter diameter telescope, including the optical configuration, cophasing system, and pointing system.

Finally, we describe the main features of the very high altitude tethered aerostat. As opposed to traditional free flying balloons, tethered aerostats offer full control of flight altitude, reliable launch and recovery of payloads, and can be left flying for several weeks at a time. In addition, the tether can be used to transmit power to the payload as well as serve for control and science data transfer via an optical fiber.

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