A survey of a site in the high plateau of Tibet has been carried out by NAOC since 2003, in order to identify appropriate sites for constructing large and medium-sized telescopes for researchers based in East Asia. Remote studies and local surveys have been performed. The Oma site in the Ali area of southwest Tibet was selected in 2005 for site testing and measurements. The monitoring results show that the Ali area has the potential to be the best location for astronomical observations in East Asia. With its low humidity and high percentage of clear nights during which observations can be conducted, the Ali area can be comparable to the top-ranking astronomical observing locations and could become one of the best infrared and submm sites in the world. The seeing conditions
there are also favorable.
A new site near a central town in the Ali area has been identified and a construction site was established in 2010 for supporting small telescopes and for conducting more detailed surveys of the area. Two domes were built in 2010, and a 25KW solar power supply and satellite communication antenna were completed in 2011.
In addition, necessary infrastructure like electrical power and fiber network lines was added in order to allow remote observations from the main office in Beijing. The construction at the Ali site in 2012 included three new domes for 0.5-1.2m telescopes and a 30m tower for microthermal C2T sensors. The Ali area is unique for astronomical observations due to its longitudinal location and high altitude; small or medium-sized telescopes can be used for studies of transient objects. Further effort will concentrate on medium-sized telescopes and instruments capable of observing in the infrared and submillimeter wavebands.
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