The atmospheric conditions above Dome A, a currently unmanned location at the highest point on the Antarctic plateau, are uniquely suited to astronomy. For certain types of astronomy Dome A is likely to be the best location on the planet, and this has motivated the development of the Plateau Observatory (PLATO). PLATO was deployed to Dome A in early 2008. It houses a suite of purpose-built site-testing instruments designed to quantify the benefits of Dome A site for astronomy, and science instruments designed to take advantage of the observing conditions. The PLATO power generation and control system is designed to provide continuous power and heat, and a high-reliability command and communications platform for these instruments. PLATO has run and collected data throughout the winter 2008 season completely unattended. Here we present a detailed description of the power generation, power control, thermal management, instrument interface, and communications systems for PLATO, and an overview of the system performance for 2008.
Copyright 2009 American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. The following article appeared in Rev. Sci. Instrum. 80, 064501 (2009)and may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3137081.