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10 August 2010 ASTEP 400: a telescope designed for exoplanet transit detection from Dome C, Antarctica
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The Concordia Base in Dome C, Antarctica, is an extremely promising site for photometric astronomy due to the 3- month long night during the Antarctic winter, favorable weather conditions, and low scintillation. The ASTEP project (Antarctic Search for Transiting ExoPlanets) is a pilot project which seeks to identify transiting planets and understand the limits of visible photometry from this site. ASTEP 400 is an optical 40cm telescope with a field of view of 1° x 1°. The expected photometric sensitivity is 1E-3, per hour for at least 1,000 stars. The optical design guarantees high homogeneity of the PSF sizes in the field of view. The use of carbon fibers in the telescope structure guarantees high stability. The focal optics and the detectors are enclosed in a thermally regulated box which withstands extremely low temperatures. The telescope designed to run at -80°C (-110°F) was set up at Dome C during the southern summer 2009- 2010. It began its nightly observations in March 2010.
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