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23 June 2006 AMICA (Antarctic Multiband Infrared CAmera) project
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The Antarctic Plateau offers unique opportunities for ground-based Infrared Astronomy. AMICA (Antarctic Multiband Infrared CAmera) is an instrument designed to perform astronomical imaging from Dome-C in the near- (1 - 5 μm) and mid- (5 - 27 μm) infrared wavelength regions. The camera consists of two channels, equipped with a Raytheon InSb 256 array detector and a DRS MF-128 Si:As IBC array detector, cryocooled at 35 and 7 K respectively. Cryogenic devices will move a filter wheel and a sliding mirror, used to feed alternatively the two detectors. Fast control and readout, synchronized with the chopping secondary mirror of the telescope, will be required because of the large background expected at these wavelengths, especially beyond 10 μm. An environmental control system is needed to ensure the correct start-up, shut-down and housekeeping of the camera. The main technical challenge is represented by the extreme environmental conditions of Dome C (T about -90 °C, p around 640 mbar) and the need for a complete automatization of the overall system. AMICA will be mounted at the Nasmyth focus of the 80 cm IRAIT telescope and will perform survey-mode automatic observations of selected regions of the Southern sky. The first goal will be a direct estimate of the observational quality of this new highly promising site for Infrared Astronomy. In addition, IRAIT, equipped with AMICA, is expected to provide a significant improvement in the knowledge of fundamental astrophysical processes, such as the late stages of stellar evolution (especially AGB and post-AGB stars) and the star formation.
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