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Researchers using crowd funding to put telescope in Antarctica

This photo shows a model of the radio wave telescope that researchers from the University of Tsukuba and other organizations hope to install in Antarctica. (Photo courtesy of Tsukuba Expo '85 Memorial Foundation)

A research team called the "Consortium of Antarctic Astronomy" is using an unusual method to raise money to install a high-frequency radio wave telescope in Antarctica -- online crowd funding.

    The consortium, made up of researchers from the University of Tsukuba, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and other organizations, plans to build the radio telescope with a 10-meter diameter receiving dish at an altitude of 3,260 meters above sea level in the interior of the Antarctic continent. The antenna will collect high-frequency radiation waves emitted following the Big Bang and provide insight into the birth of galaxies.

    The team has already received permission from France and Italy, whose governments own the planned site for the telescope, and with the goal of completing the installation by 2024, they are also aiming for funding from the Japanese government.

    High-frequency radio waves are easily absorbed by water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere. However, Antarctica is extremely dry, and has clear skies roughly 70 percent of the year. This makes the South Pole the best location on the planet for astronomical observation.

    The crowd funding goal is set at 10 million yen, with a deadline of 11 p.m. on June 30. Donations start from 3,000 yen, and more details can be found at the campaign website: (in Japanese).

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