News of the WeekANTARCTICA

In Ground-Based Astronomy's Final Frontier, China Aims for New Heights

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Science  03 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5996, pp. 1136
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5996.1136

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Summary

No place on Earth rivals the Antarctic Plateau for stargazing. The air is thin and bone-dry; dust is minimal. As observatories go, the higher the better—and at 4093 meters above sea level, it doesn't get any higher on the East Antarctic icecap than Dome A. Last year, Chinese researchers opened Kunlun Station near Dome A. Now they intend to find out if a superior vantage point translates into superior astronomy. At a workshop last month, astronomers unveiled plans to build two major telescopes at Dome A during the Chinese government's next 5-year plan, to start in 2011.

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