Instrumentation Overview

A Robotic Observatory at the Coldest Place on Earth

The HEAT telescope is combined with the Australian PLATeau Observatory (PLATO-R), analogous to a "spacecraft bus", from which HEAT derives power and communications. The combination of HEAT and PLATO-R were first installed at Ridge A in January 2012; they comprise a robotic observatory that bears closest resemblence to a satellite observatory: it must operate in a remote, extreme environment without direct human contact for a year at a time. A cube of solar panels provide up to 1 kilowatt of power during the summer, and two small diesel generators provide redundant power during the long winter night. Two Iridium modems using USAP DoD SIM cards provide 24/7 contact with PLATO-R and HEAT and allow uplinking of commands and downloading of instrument telemetry and science data.

Under construction: We love building astronomical observatories and using them, and will have lots to show you here, very soon! Stay tuned.