Amica NIR/MIR Camera For Antarctica

Figure 1:Dome C site in Antarctica.

 OAPD participates in a Consortium of Italian Institutes in the  AMICA project. AMICA (Antarctic Multiband Infrared CAmera) is a double-armed camera allowing observations between 2µ and 25µ, which will be mounted at IRAIT (International Robotic Antarctic Infrared Telescope), an 80cm robotic telescope developed to fully exploit the particular atmospheric conditions of Dome C, Antarctica (see Fig. 1). The Dome C site, at 3200m above sea level on the Antarctic Plateau, jointly exploited by Italian and French teams in the framework of Concordia project, thanks to exceptional coldness, low sky brightness and low content of water vapour of the above atmosphere is likely to be one of the best site on Earth for thermal infrared observations (2.3-300 µm) as well as for the far infrared range (30 µm-1mm).

IRAIT telescope is provided with a wobbling secondary mirror to perform focusing, dithering (for near-infrared observations) and fast chopping (for mid-infrared observations), and a plane tertiary mirror to alternatively feed two Nasmyth foci. The camera is meant to perform NIR/MIR surveys (K, L, M, N and Q) of the southern sky.

Figure 2:The AMICA detector controller with the NIR and MIR bare multiplexers under test.

 OAPd contributes to the project with the development of the near infrared arm using the InSb detectors and the electronics here developed in the framework of the ASI VISIR-C program. The control electronics for the AMICA camera has been developed starting from the VISIR-C controller. The controller (see Fig. 2) has been customized in order to allow the proper operation of two completely different detectors:

  • a InSb 256x256 pixels Raytheon detector (up to 5.5µ operation)
  • a SiAs 128x128 pixels DRS detector (up to 27µ operation)

The two devices have considerable different readout schemes and speed making a non trivial challenge their practical operation from a single controller.
A consistent effort has been spent, especially for the design of the AMICA cryostat and cryogenic design (5 K° closed cycle cryocooler) in order to allow the operation of two different detectors with different operation temperatures (InSb @ 30 K° and SiAs @ 7 K°) and in order to assure reasonable operation margins in a so hostile environment (temperatures down to -80 C° and extremely dry atmosphere).

The project is funded by INAF-Teramo Observatory and the ARENA FP7 programme.


People: F. Bortoletto, C. Bonoli, M. D'Alessandro, G. Farisato, E. Giro, D. Magrin  

Collaboration: Perugia Univ., INAF OA Teramo, INAF OA Merate, INAF OA Torino 

Publications: Bortoletto et al. (2008),  SPIE Proc. 7014,108; Strassmeier et al. (2007), Astron. Nachr. 328,451

Edu INAF - Risorse e iniziative per la scuola e la società dell'INAF

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