The PLATO antarctic site testing observatory

J. S. Lawrence, G. R. Allen, M. C B Ashley, C. Bonner, S. Bradley, X. Cui, J. R. Everett, L. Feng, X. Gong, S. Hengst, J. Hu, Z. Jiang, C. A. Kulesa, Y. Li, D. Luong-Van, A. M. Moore, C. Pennypacker, W. Qin, R. Riddle, Z. ShangJ. W V Storey, B. Sun, N. Suntzeff, N. F H Tothill, T. Travouillon, Christopher K Walker, L. Wang, J. Yan, J. Yang, H. Yang, D. Yorko, X. Yuan, X. G. Zhang, Z. Zhang, X. Zhou, Z. Zhu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

33 Scopus citations


Over a decade of site testing in Antarctica has shown that both South Pole and Dome C are xceptional sites for astronomy, with certain atmospheric conditions superior to those at existing mid-latitude sites. However, the highest point on the Antarctic plateau, Dome A, is expected to experience colder atmospheric temperatures, lower wind speeds, and a turbulent boundary layer that is confined closer to the ground. The Polar Research Institute of China, who were the first to visit the Dome A site in January 2005, plan to establish a permanently manned station there within the next decade. As part of this process they conducted a second expedition to Dome A, arriving via overland traverse in January 2008. This traverse involved the delivery and installation of the PLATeau Observatory (PLATO). PLATO is an automated self-powered astrophysical site testing observatory, developed by the University of New South Wales. A number of international institutions have contributed site testing instruments measuring turbulence, optical sky background, and sub-millimetre transparency. In addition, a set of science instruments are providing wide-field high time resolution optical photometry and terahertz imaging of the Galaxy. We present here an overview of the PLATO system design and instrumentation suite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventGround-based and Airborne Telescopes II - Marseille, France
Duration: Jun 23 2008Jun 28 2008


OtherGround-based and Airborne Telescopes II



  • Antarctic astronomy
  • Site testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Cite this

Lawrence, J. S., Allen, G. R., Ashley, M. C. B., Bonner, C., Bradley, S., Cui, X., ... Zhu, Z. (2008). The PLATO antarctic site testing observatory. In Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (Vol. 7012). [701227]