Antarctica holds tremendous potential for cosmology and astrophysics that can be best realized if the scientists involved understand and participate in the management, planning and oversight of the shared resources and logistical support. SCOARA is an intellectual partnership comprised of and directed by these scientists to ensure that the highest quality astrophysics is conducted at the South Pole.
Over the last decade the infrastructure for conducting astrophysics projects at the South Pole station has evolved from crude, makeshift laboratories with severely limited resources to modern, well-equipped laboratories. Concurrently the characteristics of the atmosphere above, and of the ice below, the station have been studied extensively. Due to the combination of low temperature, low water vapor content and high stability of its atmosphere, the South Pole has been demonstrated to be the best developed site on Earth for conducting millimeter through infrared wavelength observations, especially large area survey observations. Due to its exceptionally clear and thick ice, the South Pole is the best site available for deploying a large Cherenkov high energy neutrino detector. The Center for Astrophysics Research in Antarctica (CARA) and the Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array project (AMANDA) pioneered the development of these fields at the South Pole and ushered in an era in which complex, state-of-the-art instruments designed to take full advantage of the exceptional site conditions can be deployed and operated successfully. World-class cosmological and astrophysical research has resulted.
We firmly believe that the scientists must play an active role in the coordination of the shared and limited resources at the South Pole, and in the operation and maintenance of the scientific equipment and facilities that are critical to their research if our mission to ensure that the highest quality astrophysics is conducted at the South Pole. The scientists must also work together to provide coherent and well-researched advice to OPP on issues critical to the success of the NSF South Pole astrophysics program, for example, issues related to the cryogen supply and information technology. Most important, especially for new projects, is to have communication mechanisms among the scientists and support staff that will ensure all projects benefit from the many lessons learned during the development of South Pole astrophysics over the last decade, and to ensure the best solutions to new challenges are found.