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Inuksuit: robotic astronomical site-testing stations in the Canadian High Arctic.

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Title: Inuksuit: robotic astronomical site-testing stations in the Canadian High Arctic.
Author: Hickson, Paul
Issue Date: 2008
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2011-09-19
Publisher Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers
Citation: Steinbring, Eric; Leckie, Brian; Welle, Paul; Hardy, Tim; Cole, Bruce; Bayne, Dell; Croll, Bryce; Walker, David E.; Carlberg, Raymond G.; Fahlman, Gregory G.; Wallace, Brad; Hickson, Paul. Inuksuit: robotic astronomical site-testing stations in the Canadian High Arctic. Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes II, edited by Larry M. Stepp, Roberto Gilmozzi. Proceedings of SPIE Volume 7012, 70121V, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.789531
Abstract: Coastal mountains at Canada's northern tip possess many of the desirable properties that make the Antarctic glacial plateau attractive for astronomy: they are cold, high, dry, and in continuous darkness for several months in winter. Satellite images suggest that they should also benefit from clear skies for a fraction of time comparable to the best mid-latitude sites, and conventional site-selection criteria point to good seeing. In order to confirm these conditions, we are testing three mountain sites on northwestern Ellesmere Island, in Nunavut. On each we have installed a compact, autonomous site-testing station consisting of a meteorological station, a simple optical/near-infrared camera for sensing cloud cover, and - at one site - a more advanced all-sky viewing camera. The systems were deployed by helicopter and run on batteries recharged by wind (a compact methanol fuel cell is under study as a supplementary power source). Effective two-way communications via the Iridium satellite network allows a limited number of highly compressed images to be transferred. The full-winter dataset is stored at the site on flash-drives, thus requiring a return visit to retrieve, but day-to-day station performance can be assessed using telemetry and a computer model. Based on site-testing results, the plan is to select one site for the addition of a seeing monitor and a small but scientifically productive telescope. Copyright 2008 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.
Affiliation: Physics and Astronomy, Dept of
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/37466
Peer Review Status: Reviewed
Scholarly Level: Faculty

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