Tuesday, 01 Sep, 2009 Science

Astronomers Discovered Earth's Coldest, Driest and Calmest Place


A team of American and Australian researchers were able to discover the coldest, driest and calmest place on the planet during their exploration for the most suitable site for a laboratory. Researchers believe that no human has ever visited the site. The team combined information gathered from satellites, ground stations as well as climate models in their study to evaluate the factors that influence astronomy, such as cloud cover, temperature, sky-brightness, water vapor, wind speeds and atmospheric turbulence.

They came across the site which is known as Ridge A, located 4,053 meters high up on the Antarctic Plateau within the Australian Antarctic Territory. The site is remote and is believed to be the coldest and driest on Earth. Scientists calculated that the average temperature on Ridge A is minus 70C. There is a very small atmospheric turbulence on the site, which is why it is very calm. The lead researcher Dr Will Saunders, of the Anglo-Australian Observatory said that there is almost no wind or weather on the site. He mentioned that the astronomical pictures taken at Ridge A would be 3 times sharper compared to any other site used today by astronomers, reports ScienceDaily.

"Because the sky there is so much darker and drier, it means that a modestly-sized telescope there would be as powerful as the largest telescopes anywhere else on earth. Ridge A looks to be far superior to the best existing observatories on high mountain tops in Hawaii and Chile," outlined Dr Saunders.

It is worth mentioning that the images taken in Antarctica by specialists working at astronomical and space observatories are almost as good as the ones taken by Hubble.

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