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[lise] Site
Site
 
The search for a site for the installation of the ground-based hypertelescope prototype began with cartographic research to identify a valley with favorable sky conditions for astronomical observations and:
- east-west oriented, so that it is possible to follow stars during their diurnal motion, and
- with U-shaped slopes, so that the natural landscape is as close as possible to the spherical form of the virtual mirror.
 
Located at 2000m above sea level in the Southern Alps, the valley of the Moutière meets these criteria. It benefits from a dark sky and has good transparency as well as low turbulence. In its middle part, which is east-west oriented, the slopes have a near cylindrical shape. It is sheltered from the prevailing winds and the thermal breezes are hardly noticeable, conditions that are very favorable for the installation of the suspended structure that holds the focal optics.



 
  Bayasse village ©MR  Panoramic view of the site taken from the north side ©MR

The installation at Ubaye of the scientific equipment necessary for the construction of the Hypertelescope is regulated by a bipartite agreement between Mercantour National Park and the Collège de France. Signed in January 2012 and renewed for four years in July 2013, this agreement authorizes the installation of LISE’s research equipment at the “heart” of the park, provided that it is removable. A third of LISE’s equipment is located in the restricted “heart” of the park, while two thirds of the installations are located in the surrounding aire d’adhésion. All devices and materials are assembled in accordance with local fauna and flora conservation rules and easily dismantled.
 
Mercantour National Park ©MR Map IGN 1/25000 ©MR
 
An 800m-long cable, from which the optical gondola is suspended, is mounted between the two flanks of the valley only during observation periods. Since the behavior of birds approaching the cable, and their adaptability to these changes in the environment, remain unknown, the LISE team has implemented a program of study for the protection of diurnal and nocturnal birds, including tagging and assessment by video surveillance. Especially concerned by this study are raptors―including the bearded vulture, the griffon vulture and the golden eagle―when the cable is raised, and the dipper and grouse when the cable is on the ground.
 
All human activities associated with the team’s work on the site take into account the environmental resilience of the local ecosystems.