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10 October 2012 First technological steps toward opening a near-IR window at stratospheric altitudes
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The possibility to open a near-IR window at stratospheric altitude is crucial for a large variety of astronomical issues, from cosmology to the star formation processes. Up to now, one of the main issue is the role of the OH and thermal sky emission that are rising the sky background level when such observations are performed through ground based telescopes. We present the results of our technological activity aimed at affording some critical aspects typical of balloon flights. In particular, the obtained performances of prototype systems for rough and fine tracking will be illustrated. Both these systems constitute a high precision device (≤ 1 arcsec) for pointing and tracking light telescopes on board stratospheric balloons. We give the details concerning the optical and mechanical layout, as well as the detector and the control system. We demonstrate how such devices, when used at the focal plane of enough large telescopes(2-4m, F/10), may be capable to provide diffraction limited images in the near infrared bands. We have also developed a prototypal single channel photometer NISBA (Near Infrared Sky Background at Arctic pole), working in the H band (1.65 μm), able to evaluate, during a high-latitude balloon flight, how OH emission affects the sky background during the arctic night. The laboratory tests and performance on sky are presented and analyzed.
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Fernando Pedichini, Mauro Centrone, Dario Lorenzetti, Massimiliano Mattioli, Masimo Ricci, and Fabrizio Vitali "First technological steps toward opening a near-IR window at stratospheric altitudes", Proc. SPIE 8444, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes IV, 84442Q (10 October 2012);

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