Virtual Tour - Infrared

The infrared experiments run by CARA include several related telescopes that study the characteristics of the site itself, and the South Pole Infrared Explorer (SPIREX), which project studies faint stars and faint, distant galaxies. SPIREX was also the only telescope in the world to be able to see all of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts into Jupiter; for SPIREX, Jupiter never set! The NSSDC has a nice summary of the SPIREX SL9 images.

SPIREX was originally installed in 1993-4, was upgraded with a different camera (Abu) in 1997, and was decommissioned on 17 November 1999. (The instrument that is now on the tower previously occupied by SPIREX is DASI.) The pictures on this page are organized roughly in reverse chronological order, with pictures from the decommissioning first (1999), then pictures from SPIREX/Abu (1997-1999), then pictures from the original SPIREX/GRIM combination (1993-1997).

For more technical information about SPIREX and the site characterzation instruments, please visit our page on the infrared experiments.

Decommissioning SPIREX - 17 November 1999

Photos courtesy CARA/R. Loewenstein

Wow, a lot of snow has accumulated at the base of the tower! (It doesn't snow very often, but the snow that is there blows around a lot.)
The empty tower!

A few more pictures, courtesy the DASI team:
Coming off the tower... ...and being put on the trailer to take it away.

SPIREX/Abu (1997-1999)

Michael Ashley, from the University of New South Wales, standing next to the SPIREX telescope with the Abu camera attached.

Al Fowler of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) with SPIREX and Abu.

Al Fowler of NOAO working inside the SPIREX telescope.

Rodney Marks (1997-1998 winterover) with the SPIREX telescope.

Bob Spotz, from the University of Chicago Engineering Center, in front of the SPIREX tower and MAPO.

SPIREX/GRIM (1993-1997)

SPIREX was set up at the Pole in 1993-4 on the AST/RO pier. In 1995, it was moved to its permenant home on the SPIREX tower next to the (then) brand new MAPO building.

This is a view of the MAPO building -- you can see the SPIREX tower on the right. Since 1995, there is now a similar tower on the other end of the MAPO building; that tower is for Viper, one of the CMBR telescopes.

This is a better view of the SPIREX tower.

This is the SPIREX telescope as it stood ready to go for the winter 1995 season. On the left, you can see the instrument house for the detector electronics. On top of the main telescope, there are two smaller guiding (left) and tracking (right) telescopes that are part of the experiments designed to characterize the site. And, you can see the primary mirror and the secondary mirror. If you're good, you can even see the tertiary mirror.

This picture was taken with the detector electronics unmounted, so you can see how the light leaves the telescope -- through that large hole in the middle.

The cover for the telescope looks kind of like a baby buggy -- you can see how the cover works in this shot. Hien Ngyuen, winterover for 1993-94, is covering the telescope.

Here, Fred Mrozek, who designed and built most of SPIREX, double-checks something on the instrument.

Here, you can see Fred reflected in the primary mirror -- look for the secondary and teriary mirrors.

This is the SPIREX team (1995 season). Clockwise, starting from the upper left: Mark Hereld (PI), Jamie Lloyd (1995 winterover), Bernie Rauscher, Mark Thoma, Fred Mrozek, and Scott Severson. They're all smiling so broadly because this picture was taken just after the telescope was installed.

The two Celestrons on top of SPIREX telescope are used for guiding and the tracking of the SPIREX telescope.

This is a telescope designed by the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to make "sky dip measurements" -- measurements of atmospheric transparency at 10-30 microns. The telescope looks up and down to compare different parts of the sky. This picture is from 1995, and the plans were to, in 1996, replace this telescope with a 19-inch telescope, but the mount and the dewar (essentially the electronics) was to be the same; the new instrument continued these atmospheric transparency measurements.

Sean Casey is working on part of the GSFC telescope.

Another telescope, the Infrared Photometer System (IRPS). This instrument is the product of a collaboration between CARA and the University of New South Wales, Australia. It operated from 1993-1996, and made measurements of the sky brightness between 1 and 5 microns. This telescope required very little interaction with a person - instructions were sent to its computer and it happily took data.

John Briggs, winterover for 1994, checks the IRPS instrument.

Go back to the map of the Dark Sector.