[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The optical turbulence conditions as measured between 2004 until end of 2008 above Cerro Tololo, their seasonal as well as nocturnal behavior are presented. A comparison with the MASS-DIMM system of the Thirty Meter Telescope site testing was conducted and identifies an artificially increased seeing component in the data collected by the CTIO DIMM system under northerly winds. Evidence is shown that this increased turbulence is caused by the telescope dome. A correction for this effect is attempted and applied to the CTIO DIMM data. The MASS data of this comparison campaign allow to set constraints on the general assumption of uniform turbulent layers above a site. Comment: 30 pages, 10 figures, accepted for publication in PASP
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 06/2009; · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As part of the conceptual and preliminary design processes of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the TMT site testing team has spent the last five years measuring the atmospheric properties of five candidate mountains in North and South America with an unprecedented array of instrumentation. The site testing period was preceded by several years of analyses selecting the five candidates, Cerros Tolar, Armazones and Tolonchar in northern Chile; San Pedro Martir in Baja California, Mexico and the 13 North (13N) site on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Site testing was concluded by the selection of two remaining sites for further consideration, Armazones and Mauna Kea 13N. It showed that all five candidates are excellent sites for an extremely large astronomical observatory and that none of the sites stands out as the obvious and only logical choice based on its combined properties. This is the first article in a series discussing the TMT site testing project.
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 05/2009; · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The multiaperture scintillation sensor (MASS) has become a device widely employed to measure the altitude distribution of atmospheric turbulence. An empirical study is reported that investigates the dependence of the MASS results on the knowledge of the instrumental parameters. Also, the results of a side-by-side comparison of two MASS instruments are presented, indicating that MASS instruments permit measurements of the integrated seeing to a precision better than 0.05 arc sec and of the individual turbulence layer strength C(n)(2)(h)dh to better than 10(-14) m(1/3).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project has been collecting data on five candidate sites since 2003. This paper describes the site testing portion of the TMT site selection program and the process and standards employed by it. This includes descriptions of the candidate sites, the process by which they were identified, the site characterization instrument suite and its calibration and the available results, which will be published shortly.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Seeing stability is an important criterion of site characterization. Two sites, with the same seeing statistics, could in principle differ in their temporal stability and hence have their observatories perform differently. Temporal variability can, however, be defined in several ways, all of which may determine the performance of the observatories in different manner. In this paper, we propose three methods to measure variability each focusing on different applications: Selection (maximization of observation time), Image quality (seeing variation within a given integration time) and finally Scheduling (prediction of seeing fluctuation on a given time scale). We apply these methods to the seeing of the TMT candidate sites to determine their stability properties.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: All Sky Cameras were deployed at all Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) candidate sites. The images gathered by these cameras were used to assess the cloud statistics for each site. We describe two methods that were developed to do this, a manual method based on inspection of blue and red movies, and an automated method based on photometric analysis of the images.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One of the main tools used in the TMT site testing campaign is the turbulence profiler MASS. We describe empirical investigations and a side by side comparison of two MASS systems which were performed in order to identify the accuracy of MASS turbulence data and its dependence on the instrument calibration. The accuracy of the total seeing delivered by the TMT MASS systems is found to be better than 0"05. The combination of MASS and DIMM allows to observe the seeing within the first few hundred meters of the atmosphere and can be used to investigate possible correlations with meteorological parameters measured close to the ground. We also compare the detection of clouds and cirrus by means of MASS data (LOSSAM method) with measurements of the thermal emission of clouds using a net radiation sensor. These methods are compared with the visual cloud detection using all sky cameras.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Light pollution can create difficulties for astronomers attempting to observe faint objects in the night sky. Light from a local small town can be just as intrusive as light from a large city in the distance. As the population of the Earth increases, light pollution will become more of a problem, even in remote areas. The Thirty Meter Telescope site testing program has measured light pollution at the candidate sites by using all sky cameras; an analysis procedure enhances the all sky camera images to make the determination of the effects of the light pollution. This paper summarizes the light pollution analysis procedure and current results, which are that light pollution is currently unimportant for TMT to select a site for the final telescope location.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Differential image motion monitors (DIMMs) have become the industry standard for astronomical site characterization. The calibration of DIMMs is generally considered to be routine, but we show that particular care must be paid to this issue if high-accuracy measurements are to be achieved. In a side by side comparison of several DIMMs, we demonstrate that with proper care we can achieve an agreement between the seeing measurements of two DIMMS operating under the same conditions to better than +/-0.02 arc sec.