Dome A is the highest place on the Antarctica plateau with an altitude of 4093m above the sea level and geographic coordinates of 80:25 South and 77:06 East. The 21st Chinese Antarctica Research Expedition (CHINARE) first reached Dome A, Antarctica in 2005 and later set up Kunlun Station in 2009.
The Chinese Center for Antarctic Astronomy (CCAA), established in 2006, is a center jointly initiated by Chinese institutes and universities. The Beijing Section is based at NAOC. Early efforts transported various instruments to Dome A for site testing and astronomical observations, including an optical Chinese Small Telescope Array (CSTAR), and a THz Fourier Transform Spectrometer. CSTAR can continuously monitors a 20-square-degree area around the South Celestial Pole for months and obtain continuous, high-quality data and light curves.
The Antarctic Survey Telescope (AST3) has three 50cm telescopes with a modified Schmidt design and is part of the next generation of optical instruments at Dome A. Each telescope is equipped with a 10k x 10k CCD camera, and has the goal to survey large areas of the sky for supernova and exoplanet research as well as to conduct general time-domain astronomical research. The first AST3 was successfully installed and operated remotely at Dome A in 2012 by incorporating a newly-developed suite of software and hardware.
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