AASTO Telescope Building Relocation

just whistle

The Automated Astrophysical Site-Testing Observatory (AASTO) project was originally to be the next generation of AGO's (automated geophysical observatories) to be set up in remote places with power and comms systems that would keep them running for a year. While this structure has not yet achieved such glory, its primary research purpose at Pole was to evaluate astronomical observing conditions on the Antarctic plateau. The UNSW (University of New South Wales) folks learned a lot and used that info to set up projects at Concordia, and more recently, at the Chinese facility at Dome A. The shelter and telescope mount were relocated near ARO and used in 2004 and 2005 for the NASA/SETI Institute project, "Search for Extrasolar Planets from the South Pole." In 2008-09 the structures were removed, and the shelter was shipped to McM for rehab and use elsewhere.

Here is the UNSW link to the AASTO and other older related projects, along with a couple of brief videos describing the research. Another interesting resource is their South Pole diaries, a series of blogs by the UNSW research team on the ice between 1993 and 2005, as well as an associated photo gallery.

Below, a couple more pictures of the 2003-04 relocation, courtesy of science tech Dana Hrubes who watched the project during the 2004 and 2005 winters.

off with the old
Carpenter Angie Lodes (or Rutherford?) and UNSW researcher Jess Dempsey remove the telescope tower equipment in preparation for relocating the tower.
up and away
Removing the telescope mount.
in plane sight
The hut, loaded onto a sled, as a Twin Otter takes off in the background.
sleigh ride
Moving the hut past the front of the elevated station.
free parking
Here the equipment is staged near the new location....
ET phone here
...and here it is installed, awaiting the SETI equipment.

More information on the SETI project used to be available from the Vulcan South web site polartransits.org which is no longer around, although this 2007 presentation by Douglas Caldwell gives a good description of the project. Also recommended, the 2004 website of Dana Hrubeswho was running the experiment.