Media Advisory 07-008
South Pole Telescope Completed: New NSF Video, Animation Available
Updated interagency International Polar Year Web site goes live
March 1, 2007
For an animation showing the comparative scale of the South Pole Telescope and video on Betacam SP of the final stages of its construction, contact Dena Headlee, (703) 292-7739, email@example.com
Just days before nations around the world began a coordinated global research campaign called the International Polar Year (IPY), scientists at the South Pole aimed a massive new telescope at Jupiter and successfully collected the instrument's first test observations.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is making available to broadcasters an animation that shows the scale of the massive telescope as well as video of the completion of its construction. NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program and its three year-round stations, including Amundsen-Scott South Pole.
The $19.2 million South Pole Telescope (SPT) is funded primarily by NSF, with additional support from the Kavli Foundation of Oxnard, Calif., and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation of San Francisco. It began operations in mid-February.
The telescope stands 75 feet (22.8 meters) tall, measures 33 feet (10 meters) across and weighs 280 tons (254 metric tons). It was assembled in Kilgore, Texas, then taken apart, shipped across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand, and flown from there to the South Pole. Since November, work has been underway around the clock to reassemble and deploy the telescope.
"The telescope, camera and optics are all working as designed," said John Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar distinguished service professor in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, who heads the SPT team. "SPT's first light is a major milestone for the project and a fitting conclusion to a remarkably productive summer at the South Pole station. We now look forward to fully characterizing the instrument and beginning cosmological observations."
The SPT team includes investigators from the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Case Western Reserve University, the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, McGill University, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
SPT's first views occurred almost exactly 50 years after a team of 18 men spent the first winter in history at the South Pole as part of the 1956-1957 International Geophysical Year (IGY), which was the third polar year. The views occurred just days before nations around the globe launched the International Polar Year 2007-2008, the first such global research campaign since IGY. The U.S. opening ceremony for IPY was held Feb. 26 at the National Academies of Sciences in Washington D.C.
On Feb. 26, a redesigned federal government Web portal (www.ipy.gov) for IPY went online. The more graphics-intense site serves as a central location for the news media and the public to keep track of federally funded IPY research expeditions and learn about educational opportunities and resources, museum exhibits and other federally supported IPY resources. The new site allows users to subscribe to an RSS feed to follow IPY developments. The site also features space for agencies to highlight their IPY work, in addition to individual agency sites.
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7761, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Koppes, University of Chicago, (773) 702-8366, email@example.com
Robert Sanders, University of California, Berkeley, (510) 643-6998, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dena Headlee, NSF, (703) 292-7739, email@example.com
The U.S. IPY Web portal: www.ipy.gov
The South Pole Telescope site: http://spt.uchicago.edu/
NSF's South Pole Special Report Web site--"U.S South Pole Station: Supporting Science": http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/livingsouthpole/index.jsp
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, its budget is $7.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 48,000 competitive proposals for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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