South Pole Diaries 2000/01


Emperor Penguins which populate the Antarctic Coast
This summer astronomers from the University of New South Wales are continuing their astronomical program in Antarctica. They will be refurbishing instruments on the AASTO observatory at the South Pole, and for the first time visiting Dome C. The AASTO, or Automated Astrophysical Site Testing Observatory, is a self-powered laboratory capable of running a series of experiments autonomously through the long Antarctic winter. It is making measurements to quantify exactly how good Antarctica is for astronomy.

Leading the expedition south is Professor John Storey, making his seventh visit to Antarctica. With him will be four experienced Antarctic campaigners;Michael Ashley, Andre Phillips, Paolo Calisse and Jon Everett, with first hand experience of the Australian, British, Italian, New Zealand and US programs between them. In addition, graduate student Jessica Dempsey is wintering over at the South Pole working for the Americans. Two scientists from the Australian National University are accompanying the UNSW team.

In addition to their work on the AASTO at the Pole, the team is venturing to Dome C for the first time. Dome C is one of the high points of the Antarctic plateau, and possibly the best site on the planet for an astronomical observatory. In the Australian Antarctic Territory, it is also where a French-Italian base is under construction. John Storey and Paolo Calisse will be taking an instrument capable of measuring the sky brightness at wavelengths just less than one millimetre (the "sub-millimetre") to Dome C. We call it "SUMMIT".

The team is deploying a suite of instruments which are capable of measuring the atmospheric conditions that affect the conduct of astronomy across the optical, infrared and sub-millimetre parts of the spectrum. The instrumentation will operate autonomously over the winter of 2001, gathering data on the site conditions. It is then planned to re-deploy the AASTO to Dome C, one of the high points of the plateau in 2002, for a complete analysis of that site.

You may browse the diaries in two ways:

Please also visit Michael Ashley's Diary from 2000/01:


Diary entries for 2000/01

UNSW Antarctic Team Members 2000/01

Name Position Dome C
Dates at Pole
Dr Michael Ashley Head, Astrophysics n/a
31/01/01 - 14/02/01
Dr Michael Burton Academic n/a
Mr Paolo Calisse Research Scientist 06/12/00 - 30/01/01
03/02/01 - 14/02/01
Mr Jon Everett Research Scientist n/a
22/11/00 - 07/12/00
Dr Andre Phillips Research Scientist n/a
20/01/01 - 14/02/01
Prof John Storey Head, Physics 06/12/00 - 16/12/00