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Session 62 - Workshop on the Future of Antarctic Astrophysics - II.
Topical, Oral session, Wednesday, June 10

[62.27] A Large-aperture IR Telescope

J. W. V. Storey (University of NSW)

Site testing at the South Pole over the past few years has shown that conditions there are exceptionally good for infrared astronomy. From 2.3 to 13 microns, the sky brightness is typically between 20 and 50 times lower than at temperate sites. The sky emission is also much more stable, leading to greatly enhanced sensitivity in the thermal infrared. Although the seeing at ground level is only moderately good, the largest contribution to the seeing comes from a layer very close to the ground. Above a height of about 200 metres, the seeing appears to be exceptionally good.

Plans are underway to develop a 2-metre class IR-optimised telescope for deployment to the South Pole. ``SPIRIT'' (the South Pole InfraRed Imaging Telescope) will employ low-order adaptive optics to compensate for the near-ground turbulence. Because of the low altitude of this seeing disturbance, diffraction-limited images should be obtainable over an extremely wide field of view - making SPIRIT ideal for wide-field surveys and cosmological studies.

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