TEA Banner
TEA Navbar

Join Karina on her 2003 expedition with the AST/RO team

Karina Leppik teaches physics at Choate-Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT. Karina began educating the public at the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis, MN, where she not only informed visitors about bogus and potentially harmful medical devices and practices, but also used an antique phrenology machine to determine personality traits of the visitors. After enrolling at Kenyon College where she earned her B.A.in physics, she worked at Miller Observatory where she helped with astronomy labs for the college and ran public open house nights. She also volunteered at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, OH, where she worked in the planetarium. In addition to her teaching duties at Choate, Karina is an advisor for extracurricular student science projects, and lives in a dorm with 23 teenage girls to whom she acts as an advisor. Karina also lives with her many plants, including five miniature roses.

Visit Karina Leppik's Web page at Choate-Rosemary Hall. Check out the video!

Dr. Chris Martin with Dr. Anthony Stark, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

I will be working with The Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope / Remote Observatory (AST/RO) at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. AST/RO is a radio telescope that looks at the distribution of molecules in interstellar space to understand the composition of molecular clouds and how this leads to star formation and galactic structure.

Since AST/RO is inaccessible most of the year, the summer months of November through February is the time when maintenance and upgrades to the telescope are possible. After this brief window, one person stays behind with the telescope to keep it running during the winter months. While at the pole in December 2000, I will be involved with the installation of a 4 channel 810 GHz receiver called PoleStar. As part of the installation process, we will be taking some data which will illustrate what a radio telescope can see.

I am excited to be part of the AST/RO team, and have a chance to work with the telescope and share my experiences here. The south pole is a unique environment, and one of the ideal places on earth to have a radio telescope. Since the frequencies of light that the telescope looks at are absorbed by water molecules in the atmosphere, it is advantages to be at an altitude of more than 9,300 feet with cold temperatures, resulting in an extremely low level of water between the telescope and outer space. Radio astronomy is also very different than what most people associate with astronomy. Looking at objects with detectors other than your eyes allows you to see different aspects of the sky, as well as being able to observe while the sun is up. I am looking forward to immersing myself in radio astronomy, and sharing my experiences here. I encourage you to follow my adventures, and share your thoughts, questions and comments.

Thanks to Filmworks.com for supplying film for Karina's expedition!

Please send your comments to Karina about this site!

31 December, 2000:

New Yearıs Eve

30 December, 2000:

Aligning the Telescope

29 December, 2000:

Food, Glorious Food!

28 December, 2000:

Environmental Control

27 December, 2000:

More coldhead maintenance

25 December, 2000:

Christmas Day

24 December, 2000:

Christmas Eve

23 December, 2000:

Coldhead Maintenance

22 December, 2000:


21 December, 2000:

Skiing across Antarctica

20 December, 2000:

Cooling a Dewar

19 December, 2000:

Being sick

18 December, 2000:


17 December, 2000:

Christmas preparation

16 December, 2000:

Automated Geophysical Observatory (AGO)

15 December, 2000:

Raising a Telescope and Fire Drill

13 December, 2000:

The Weather

12 December, 2000:

Finishing little bits at AST/RO

11 December, 2000:

What we can see in the sky

10 December, 2000:

Weekend Life at the South Pole

8 December, 2000:

Fixing stuff

7 December, 2000:

Liquid Helium Fill

6 December, 2000:

The magic that makes AST/RO work.

5 December, 2000:

Introduction to AST/RO

4 December, 2000:

Launching an ozonesonde

3 December, 2000:

A brief introduction to radio astronomy

1 December, 2000:

Antarctic Research, Step 1: Getting There

Return to top of page