China is planning to install a new array of telescopes around the South Pole. The new project, called the Antarctic TianMu Time Domain Astronomical Observing Array, will feature 100 small-diameter telescopes in a large field in the Antarctic region.
The telescopes will conduct continuous observations throughout the polar night, according to designers at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. A prototype was transported to Zhongshan Station during the country’s 39th scientific expedition. Two Chinese icebreakers began the expedition in late October 2022 and traveled more than 60,000 nautical miles over 163 days.
Since February 20, the prototype has completed observations without problems for 248 consecutive days. Preliminary analysis showed the viability of the project, said Zhou Dan, chief engineer of the prototype, which represents China’s first astronomical observation equipment in Antarctica based on charge-coupled device (CCD) technology, which allows the telescope to track objects celestial bodies without a trigger mechanism, according to Zhou.