CARA Science: SPIREX/Abu


The South Pole Infrared Explorer (SPIREX) has been in operation since 1993. From 1993-1997, the camera used was GRIM. From 1997 to late 1999, the camera was Abu.

The SPIREX 60 cm telescope is equipped with an infrared camera, Abu, which features a first-generation 1024x1024 InSb detector array. The SPIREX/Abu facility at the South Pole has demonstrated that this site has great potential for deep, wide-field, thermal IR (2-5 micron) imaging of sources in the southern hemisphere. The facility became available for the general astronomical community during the 1999 observing season through the joint effort of NOAO and CARA (see The SPIREX/Abu facility has been augmented and enhanced by a data reduction system developed by the Rochester Institute of Technology. During its relatively brief lifetime, the SPIREX/Abu image acquisition and reduction facility has demonstrated the need for and the viability of a workhorse thermal IR observatory at the South Pole, as well as the extreme utility of a remote, distributed knowledge network in coping with the flow of data from the Pole.

1999 is the final year of SPIREX/Abu observations; the system will be removed in November 1999, and Abu will be returned to NOAO (with grateful thanks from CARA).


Astronomical observations conducted during the past austral winter include studies of the interaction of stars, dust, and gas in active star-forming regions; the frequency of circumstellar disks in young clusters; the Galactic Center; and variable phenomena including a gamma-ray burster and an x-ray nova. Observing will continue as long as possible through station opening until the beginning of installation of the DASI telescope.

In 1999, the Rochester Institute of Technology took the lead in the design and construction of a high-throughput, comprehensive data reduction pipeline. Such a data handling facility was necessitated when the relentless, wide-field imaging capability afforded by SPIREX/Abu was made available to NOAO Guest Astronomers for the 1999 observing season.

Finally, see also the page on sample data from the call for proposals page, as well as the filters page and the system sensitivity/observing strategies page.


For more information

The group does not have a website yet.

SPIREX/Abu is based at the University of Chicago; principal collaborating institutions include the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, and the University of New South Wales. For more information, contact Al Harper,