The Antarctic plateau offers exceptional atmospheric and environmental conditions for astronomical
observations over a wide range of wavelengths and uniquely favorable to infrared astronomy.
Exceptional low sky brightness throughout the near- and mid-infrared and a telescope facility
complying with the highest possible dynamic range for photometry, angular resolution and the widefield
leads to the possibility of a modest-sized 2m off-axis telescope achieving comparable
sensitivity to that of a larger ground-based 8-10m class telescope or a same sized space-based ones.
The first results obtained from the Site Campaigns performed in the last years in different locations of the Antarctic Continent and the acquired experience obtained from the first astronomical IR measures with SPIREX, have in fact opened the way to a present time challenge, about the installation of a large IR Telescope in the best possible site on earth, that will be competitive with the present frontier of ground based and space telescopes in the Infrared range.
A project in this context has been submitted to the Italian Plan for Antarctic Research (PNRA), in collaboration with French and Australian colleagues that began to be funded this year. The project entitled “A preliminary study for a Large Infrared Telescope at Dome C”, will lay the bases for the realization of a non-conventional instrument for the mid-IR domain, suited for the very particular and severe Antarctic situation.
In this first paper a general overview is done about the future development plan for the GTA (Grande Telescopio Antartico), paying attention to the following themes:
Large aperture and low emissivity and high reliability of Antarctic IR telescopes
High resolution and very high sensitivity objectives for a mid-ir Survey Telescope.
Non-conventional observing modes for quasi drift-scan measurements.