Robotic telescope

A robotic telescope is an astronomical telescope and detector system that makes observations without the intervention of a human. In astronomical disciplines, a telescope qualifies as robotic if it makes those observations without being operated by a human, even if a human has to initiate the observations at the beginning of the night, or end them in the morning. It may have software agent(s) using Artificial Intelligence that assist in various ways such as automatic scheduling.[1][2][3] A robotic telescope is distinct from a remote telescope, though an instrument can be both robotic and remote.

El Enano robotic telescope
“El Enano”, a robotic telescope

Design

Robotic telescopes are complex systems that typically incorporate a number of subsystems. These subsystems include devices that provide telescope pointing capability, operation of the detector (typically a CCD camera), control of the dome or telescope enclosure, control over the telescope's focuser, detection of weather conditions, and other capabilities. Frequently these varying subsystems are presided over by a master control system, which is almost always a software component.

Robotic telescopes operate under closed loop or open loop principles. In an open loop system, a robotic telescope system points itself and collects its data without inspecting the results of its operations to ensure it is operating properly. An open loop telescope is sometimes said to be operating on faith, in that if something goes wrong, there is no way for the control system to detect it and compensate.

A closed loop system has the capability to evaluate its operations through redundant inputs to detect errors. A common such input would be position encoders on the telescope's axes of motion, or the capability of evaluating the system's images to ensure it was pointed at the correct field of view when they were exposed.

Most robotic telescopes are small telescopes. While large observatory instruments may be highly automated, few are operated without attendants.

History of professional robotic telescopes

Robotic telescopes were first developed by astronomers after electromechanical interfaces to computers became common at observatories. Early examples were expensive, had limited capabilities, and included a large number of unique subsystems, both in hardware and software. This contributed to a lack of progress in the development of robotic telescopes early in their history.

By the early 1980s, with the availability of cheap computers, several viable robotic telescope projects were conceived, and a few were developed. The 1985 book, Microcomputer Control of Telescopes, by Mark Trueblood and Russell M. Genet, was a landmark engineering study in the field. One of this book's achievements was pointing out many reasons, some quite subtle, why telescopes could not be reliably pointed using only basic astronomical calculations. The concepts explored in this book share a common heritage with the telescope mount error modeling software called Tpoint, which emerged from the first generation of large automated telescopes in the 1970s, notably the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope.

Since the late 1980s, the University of Iowa has been in the forefront of robotic telescope development on the professional side. The Automated Telescope Facility (ATF), developed in the early 1990s, was located on the roof of the physics building at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. They went on to complete the Iowa Robotic Observatory, a robotic and remote telescope at the private Winer Observatory in 1997. This system successfully observed variable stars and contributed observations to dozens of scientific papers. In May 2002, they completed the Rigel Telescope. The Rigel was a 0.37-meter (14.5-inch) F/14 built by Optical Mechanics, Inc. and controlled by the Talon program.[4] Each of these was a progression toward a more automated and utilitarian observatory.

One of the largest current networks of robotic telescopes is RoboNet, operated by a consortium of UK universities. The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) Project is another example of a professional robotic telescope. LINEAR's competitors, the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth-Object Search, Catalina Sky Survey, Spacewatch, and others, have also developed varying levels of automation.

In 2002, the RAPid Telescopes for Optical Response (RAPTOR) project pushed the envelope of automated robotic astronomy by becoming the first fully autonomous closed–loop robotic telescope. RAPTOR was designed in 2000 and began full deployment in 2002. Theproject was headed by Tom Vestrand and his team: James Wren, Robert White, P. Wozniak, and Heath Davis. Its first light on one of the wide field instruments was in late 2001, with the second wide field system came online in late 2002. Closed loop operations began in 2003. Originally the goal of RAPTOR was to develop a system of ground-based telescopes that would reliably respond to satellite triggers and more importantly, identify transients in real-time and generate alerts with source locations to enable follow-up observations with other, larger, telescopes. It has achieved both of these goals quite successfully. Now RAPTOR has been re-tuned to be the key hardware element of the Thinking Telescopes Technologies Project. Its new mandate will be the monitoring of the night sky looking for interesting and anomalous behaviors in persistent sources using some of the most advanced robotic software ever deployed. The two wide field systems are a mosaic of CCD cameras. The mosaic covers and area of approximately 1500 square degrees to a depth of 12th magnitude. Centered in each wide field array is a single fovea system with a field of view of 4 degrees and depth of 16th magnitude. The wide field systems are separated by a 38 km baseline. Supporting these wide field systems are two other operational telescopes. The first of these is a cataloging patrol instrument with a mosaic 16 square degree field of view down to 16 magnitude. The other system is a .4m OTA with a yielding a depth of 19-20th magnitude and a coverage of .35 degrees. Three additional systems are currently undergoing development and testing and deployment will be staged over the next two years. All of the systems are mounted on custom manufactured, fast-slewing mounts capable of reaching any point in the sky in 3 seconds. The RAPTOR System is located on site at Los Alamos National Laboratory (USA) and has been supported through the Laboratory's Directed Research and Development funds.

In 2004, some professional robotic telescopes were characterized by a lack of design creativity and a reliance on closed source and proprietary software. The software is usually unique to the telescope it was designed for and cannot be used on any other system. Often, robotic telescope software developed at universities becomes impossible to maintain and ultimately obsolete because the graduate students who wrote it move on to new positions, and their institutions lose their knowledge. Large telescope consortia or government funded laboratories don't tend to have this same loss of developers as experienced by universities. Professional systems generally feature very high observing efficiency and reliability. There is also an increasing tendency to adopt ASCOM technology at a few professional facilities (see following section). The need for proprietary software is usually driven by the competition for research dollars between institutions.

History of amateur robotic telescopes

In 2004, most robotic telescopes are in the hands of amateur astronomers. A prerequisite for the explosion of amateur robotic telescopes was the availability of relatively inexpensive CCD cameras, which appeared on the commercial market in the early 1990s. These cameras not only allowed amateur astronomers to make pleasing images of the night sky, but also encouraged more sophisticated amateurs to pursue research projects in cooperation with professional astronomers. The main motive behind the development of amateur robotic telescopes has been the tedium of making research-oriented astronomical observations, such as taking endlessly repetitive images of a variable star.

In 1998, Bob Denny conceived of a software interface standard for astronomical equipment, based on Microsoft's Component Object Model, which he called the Astronomy Common Object Model (ASCOM). He also wrote and published the first examples of this standard, in the form of commercial telescope control and image analysis programs, and several freeware components. He also convinced Doug George to incorporate ASCOM capability into a commercial camera control software program. Through this technology, a master control system that integrated these applications could easily be written in perl, VBScript, or JavaScript. A sample script of that nature was provided by Denny.

Following coverage of ASCOM in Sky & Telescope magazine several months later, ASCOM architects such as Bob Denny, Doug George, Tim Long, and others later influenced ASCOM into becoming a set of codified interface standards for freeware device drivers for telescopes, CCD cameras, telescope focusers, and astronomical observatory domes. As a result, amateur robotic telescopes have become increasingly more sophisticated and reliable, while software costs have plunged. ASCOM has also been adopted for some professional robotic telescopes.

Meanwhile, ASCOM users designed ever more capable master control systems. Papers presented at the Minor Planet Amateur-Professional Workshops (MPAPW) in 1999, 2000, and 2001 and the International Amateur-Professional Photoelectric Photometry Conferences of 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 documented increasingly sophisticated master control systems. Some of the capabilities of these systems included automatic selection of observing targets, the ability to interrupt observing or rearrange observing schedules for targets of opportunity, automatic selection of guide stars, and sophisticated error detection and correction algorithms.

Remote telescope system development started in 1999, with first test runs on real telescope hardware in early 2000. RTS2 was primary intended for Gamma ray burst follow-up observations, so ability to interrupt observation was core part of its design. During development, it became an integrated observatory management suite. Other additions included use of the Postgresql database for storing targets and observation logs, ability to perform image processing including astrometry and performance of the real-time telescope corrections and a web-based user interface. RTS2 was from the beginning designed as a completely open source system, without any proprietary components. In order to support growing list of mounts, sensors, CCDs and roof systems, it uses own, text based communication protocol. The RTS2 system is described in papers appearing in 2004 and 2006.[5]

The Instrument Neutral Distributed Interface (INDI) was started in 2003. In comparison to the Microsoft Windows centric ASCOM standard, INDI is a platform independent protocol developed by Elwood C. Downey of ClearSky Institute to support control, automation, data acquisition, and exchange among hardware devices and software frontends.

Significance

By 2004, robotic observations accounted for an overwhelming percentage of the published scientific information on asteroid orbits and discoveries, variable star studies, supernova light curves and discoveries, comet orbits and gravitational microlensing observations.

All early phase Gamma ray burst observations were carried by robotic telescopes.

List of Robotic Telescopes

See below for further information on these professional robotic telescopes:

See also

References

  1. ^ "STAR: Astronomers, Agents and when Robotic Telescopes aren't..." adsabs.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  2. ^ Mason, Cindy. Pyper, ed. "Collaborative Networks of Independent Automatic Telescopes". adsabs.harvard.edu. Astronomical Society of The Pacific. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  3. ^ Crawford. "GNAT: Global Network of Automated Telescopes". adsabs.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  5. ^ http://rts2.org/index.html

External links

  • Virtual Telescope Project The Virtual Telescope Project robotic facility.
  • List of professional robotic telescopes (with map and statistics).
  • "Robotic telescopes: An interactive exhibit on the world-wide web". CiteSeerX 10.1.1.51.9564: provides an overview of telescope operation through the internet
150 Nuwa

Nuwa (minor planet designation: 150 Nuwa) is a large main-belt asteroid that was discovered by Canadian-American astronomer James Craig Watson on October 18, 1875, and named after Nüwa, the Chinese creator goddess. It is listed as a member of the Hecuba group of asteroids that orbit near the 2:1 mean-motion resonance with Jupiter. Based upon the spectrum it is classified as a C-type asteroid, which indicates that it is probably composed of primitive carbonaceous chondritic material and the surface is exceedingly dark.

Photometric observations of this asteroid at the Catania Astrophysical Observatory during 1992 and 1993 gave a light curve with a period of 8.140 ± 0.005 hours. In 2004, an additional photometric study was performed at Swilken Brae Observatory in St Andrews, Fife, yielding a probable period of 8.1364 ± 0.0008 hours and a brightness variation of 0.26 ± 0.03 in magnitude. A 2011 study from Organ Mesa Observatory in Las Cruces, New Mexico gave a period of 8.1347 ± 0.0001 hours with a brightness variation of 0.17 ± 0.02 magnitude, which is consistent with prior results.On December 17, 1999, a star was occulted by Nuwa.

Andreas Gerasimos Michalitsianos

Dr. Andreas 'Andy' Gerasimos Michalitsianos (Greek: Ανδρέας Γεράσιμος Μιχαλιτσιάνος) (May 22, 1947 – October 29, 1997) was a Greek-American astronomer and a NASA astrophysicist, also known and published as Andrew G. Michalitsianos.Born in Alexandria, Egypt on May 22, 1947, Andreas grew up with his mother, who spoke little English and briefly, with his father. He moved with his family to New York City in 1949 and lived in the Queens borough before going to college. Michalitsianos' father, Gerasimos Andreas, was a sea captain of a Greek tanker, the SS Foundation Star (formerly SS Lampas), but the ship was caught up in a hurricane and sunk in September 1952 off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia and Michalitsianos' father died of pneumonia shortly after rescue. Andreas showed an early interest in astronomy and physics from an early age, winning a science contest in 1959 and serving as president of the Junior Astronomy Club in NYC where his accomplishments included leading a South American eclipse expedition. He graduated from Newtown High School in 1965 and then earned his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Arizona at Tucson in 1969, working at the nearby Kitt Peak National Observatory as a student employee in the Space Division to help pay off his college debts. His duties at Kitt Peak included the initial tests of a remotely controlled telescope.

Andreas then received a scholarship and earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics from University of Cambridge, Churchill College in 1976 while doing research on a theoretical topic in solar physics. He would later work as a junior research fellow at the California Institute of Technology and then as an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center from the 1970s until his death. Michalitsianos was involved with such projects as the Hubble Space Telescope and was the Deputy Project Manager of the Observatory Branch for Goddard's highly successful International Ultraviolet Explorer, in which he won several awards for his contributions. Michalitsianos eventually went on to become Chief of the Laboratory for Astronomy and Solar Physics at the Goddard Space Flight Center in early 1997, and was renowned for his breakthrough research on symbiotic stars. His many awards included the NASA Meritorious Achievement Award.

Michalitsianos died on October 29, 1997 in Baltimore, Maryland after a long struggle with a brain tumor. Until his last days he was hard at work rejuvenating the laboratory of which he had recently taken command, and on a proposal for a spacecraft to monitor temporal changes in the ultraviolet and X-ray spectra of stars and active galaxies. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and a sister.

A landbased robotic telescope on the island of Cefalonia in western Greece is named in his honor. The Andreas Gerasimos Michalitsianos telescope, located within a former Hellenic Air Force communications station, has been utilized by Greek universities and The Eudoxos Project to advance Greek secondary education in introductory astronomy and physics laboratories for high school students.

Beverly-Begg Observatory

The Beverly-Begg Observatory is a New Zealand astronomical observatory, situated on Robin Hood Park in the Belleknowes part of Dunedin's town belt. It was established in 1922 by the Dunedin Astronomical Society and is the home of the group. The annex was added in the 1960s.

On 6 September 2008 the society unveiled a new 35 cm Celestron instrument on a Software Bisque Paramount ME robotic telescope mount with camera totalling $38,000, replacing a 30.5 cm reflector telescope that had been in use since 1973. In addition $9,000 was spent upgrading the observatory facilities, including raising the floor by 1 m and installing computer screens displaying images captured by the telescope.The observatory is open to the public on Sunday nights from 7:30 pm during the winter months (when New Zealand daylight saving time is not in force). Access for education and private groups may be made by arrangement through the Dunedin Astronomical Society's education officer.

The annex is used by the society for meetings and talks. The observatory facilities are available for DAS member's use.

Bob Denny

Bob Denny (fl. late 20th century) is an American software developer who writes software for robotic telescope and remote telescope systems. He is the inventor of the Astronomy Common Object Model (ASCOM) standard, which has resulted in the easy availability of freeware device drivers for telescopes, telescope focusers, and astronomical observatory domes and enclosures.

Denny is also noted for developing the first web server software for Microsoft Windows 3.1, 95, and NT 4 (Windows HTTPd), as the inventor of the Windows Common Gateway Interface which allows Visual Basic to be used as a web server back-end language, the first Java web server back-end system, and as the author of the O'Reilly WebSite Pro web server. He is a uniformed/armed volunteer for the Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff's office.

The asteroid 23257 Denny is named in his honor.

Bradford Robotic Telescope

The Bradford Robotic Telescope (BRT) is an autonomous astronomical telescope located at Teide Observatory, Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It is owned by the University of Bradford and was built between 2002 and 2004 for remote use by schools and individuals worldwide. As of November 2009, the observatory has returned over 70,000 images and has more than 23,000 users.On May 15, 2016, the BRT team announced via email to registered users that control of the Bradford Telescope would be transferred to the Open University, and renamed the Autonomous Robotic Telescope (ART).

The transfer of the telescope assets to the Open University was completed in 2016. The original telescope hardware is in the process of being decommissioned (May 2017) and has been replaced by two telescopes on Mount Teide, the Physics Innovations Robotic Telescope Explorer (PIRATE) and the COmpletely Autonomous Service Telescope (COAST) installed as part of the OpenSTEM Labs facility.

GRB 990123

GRB 990123 is a gamma-ray burst which was detected on January 23, 1999. It was the first GRB for which a simultaneous optical flash was detected. Astronomers first managed to obtain a visible-light image of a GRB as it occurred on January 23, 1999, using the ROTSE-I telescope in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The ROTSE-I was operated by a team under Dr. Carl W. Akerlof of the University of Michigan and included members from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The robotic telescope was fully automated, responding to signals from NASA's BATSE instrument aboard the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory within seconds, without human intervention. In the dark hours of the morning of January 23, 1999, the Compton satellite recorded a gamma-ray burst that lasted for about a minute and a half. There was a peak of gamma and X-ray emission 25 seconds after the event was first detected, followed by a somewhat smaller peak 40 seconds after the beginning of the event. The emission then fizzled out in a series of small peaks over the next 50 seconds, and eight minutes after the event had faded to a hundredth of its maximum brightness. The burst was so strong that it ranked in the top 2% of all bursts detected.

Compton reported the burst to its ground control facility at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland the moment it began, and Goddard immediately sent the data out over the "gamma-ray Burst Coordinates Network (GCN)". While Compton, as mentioned, could not provide precise locations of bursts, the location was good enough for the wide-field ROTSE-I. The camera array automatically focused on the region of the sky and obtained an image of the burst 22 seconds after it was detected by Compton, with subsequent images obtained every 25 seconds after that.

ROTSE-I could image cosmic objects as faint as magnitude 16, and GRB hunters had expected the visible component of a GRB to be very faint. Instead, the visible component reached magnitude 9. It was so bright that it could have been seen by an amateur astronomer with good binoculars. The object that produced it increased in brightness by a factor of 4,000 in less than a minute.

Because ROTSE-I operated automatically (while its creators slept) the news of ROTSE-I's accomplishment didn't make it out on the networks until later in the day, and in the meantime other observatories were focusing on the event, by then designated "GRB 990123".

The BeppoSAX satellite had also seen the burst, and pinned down its location to within a few arcminutes. This data was sent out, and four hours after the burst the area was imaged with the 1.52 meter (60 inch) Schmidt camera at Palomar Mountain in California. The image revealed a magnitude 18 optical transient that wasn't on archive images of the same area.

The next night, the fading object, by now down to magnitude 20, was imaged by the Keck telescope, and the 2.6 meter Nordic Optical Telescope in the Canary Islands. The observations revealed absorption lines with a redshift of 1.6, implying a distance of 9 billion light-years.

The Hubble Space Telescope performed observations on the location of GRB 990123, sixteen days after the event. It had faded by more than a factor of three million in that time. The Hubble was able to pick up the traces of a faint galaxy, whose blue color suggested it was forming new stars at a rapid rate.

Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope

The Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (or KELT) is an astronomical observation system formed by two robotic telescopes that are conducting a survey for transiting exoplanets around bright stars. The project is jointly administered by members of The Ohio State University Department of Astronomy, the Vanderbilt University Department of Physics and Astronomy Astronomy Group, the Lehigh University Department of Physics, and the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO).

List of hexapod robots

This is a list of hexapod robots.

Livermore Optical Transient Imaging System

The Livermore Optical Transient Imaging System, or LOTIS,

is an automated telescope designed to slew very rapidly to the location of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), to enable the simultaneous measurement of optical counterparts. Since GRBs can occur anywhere in the sky, are often poorly localized, and fade very quickly, this implies very rapid slewing (less than 10 sec) and a wide field of view (greater than 15 degrees). To achieve the needed response time, LOTIS was fully automated and connected via Internet socket to the Gamma-ray Burst Coordinates Network. This network analyzes telemetry from satellite such as HETE-2 and Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission and delivers GRB coordinate information in real-time.. The optics were built from 4 commercial tele-photo lenses of 11 cm aperture, with custom 2048 X 2048 CCD cameras, and could view a 17.6 X 17.6 degree field.

LOTIS started routine operation in October 1996, with a limiting magnitude Mv≈11.5 . In March 1998 it was upgraded with cooled cameras,

resulting in a limiting sensitivity of Mv≈14. It was in operation until at least 2001, but never successfully detected the optical counterpart of a GRB, though it did set upper limits.

By 2001, the 4 cameras had been co-aligned and two of them had added filters.

In the idle time between GRB triggers, LOTIS systematically surveyed the entire available sky every night for new optical transients. LOTIS was succeeded by another robotic telescope with a larger mirror but smaller field of view, called Super-LOTIS.

Mount Lemmon Observatory

Mount Lemmon Observatory (MLO), also known as the Mount Lemmon Infrared Observatory, is an astronomical observatory located on Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains approximately 28 kilometers (17 mi) northeast of Tucson, Arizona (US). The site in the Coronado National Forest is used with special permission from the U.S. Forest Service by the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory, and contains a number of independently managed telescopes.

OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb

OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb (known sometimes as Hoth by NASA) is a super-Earth exoplanet orbiting OGLE-2005-BLG-390L, a star 21,500 ± 3,300 light years from Earth near the center of the Milky Way. It is one of the most distant planets known. On 25 January 2006, Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork/Robotic Telescope Network (PLANET/Robonet), Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), and Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics (MOA) made a joint announcement of the discovery. The planet does not appear to meet conditions presumed necessary to support life.

Robert Quimby

Robert Quimby (born 1976) is an American astronomer who received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. As a lead member of the Texas Supernova Survey, Quimby and his team used the relatively small 18-inch ROTSE-IIIb robotic telescope on McDonald Observatory’s Mount Fowlkes, along with a program he designed to track supernovae. In 2005, Quimby discovered SN2005ap, at this writing the brightest explosion ever recorded. Quimby measured the burst at 100 billion times the luminosity of our sun, at a distance of 4.7 billion light years. As a comparison, this supernova occurred 160 million years before the formation of the Earth. Quimby continues his research at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.From 1994-1995, Quimby played trombone with the ska band Reel Big Fish.

RoboNet

RoboNet-1.0 was a prototype global network of UK-built 2-metre robotic telescopes, the largest of their kind in the world, comprising the Liverpool Telescope on La Palma (Canary Islands), the Faulkes Telescope North on Maui (Hawaii), and the Faulkes Telescope South in Australia, managed by a consortium of ten UK universities under the lead of Liverpool John Moores University. For the technological aims of integrating a global network to act effectively as a single instrument, and maximizing the scientific return by applying the newest developments in e-Science, RoboNet adopted the intelligent-agent architecture devised and maintained by the eSTAR project.

With the flexible scheduling and short response time of robotic telescopes being ideal for time-domain astronomy, RoboNet-1.0 had two major science goals that critically depend on these requirements: the determination of origin and nature of gamma-ray bursts, and the detection of cool extra-solar planets by means of gravitational microlensing.

Apart from their science use, the telescopes forming the RoboNet-1.0 have also been made available for two educational programmes, the Faulkes Telescope Project and the National Schools‘ Observatory.

The RoboNet microlensing programme, led by the University of St Andrews, engages in a common campaign with the PLANET collaboration since 2005.

With the official end of RoboNet-1.0 in October 2007, and the earlier acquisition of the two Faulkes Telescopes by Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, the microlensing programme is carried on as RoboNet-II. Starting in 2008, RoboNet-II has been using the expert system for microlensing anomaly detection

that is being provided by the Automated Robotic Terrestrial Exoplanet Microlensing Search (ARTEMiS). RoboNet-II aims at obtaining a first census of cool terrestrial exoplanets.

Slooh

Slooh is a robotic telescope service that can be viewed live through a web browser with Flash plug-in. It was not the first robotic telescope, but it was the first that offered "live" viewing through a telescope via the web. Other online telescopes traditionally email a picture to the recipient. The site has a patent on their live image processing method. Slooh is an online astronomy platform with live-views and telescope rental for a fee. Observations come from a global network of telescopes located in places including Spain and Chile.The name Slooh comes from the word "slew" to indicate the movement of a telescope, modified with "ooh" to express pleasure and surprise.

Space Situational Awareness Programme

The Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme is the European Space Agency's initiative designed to support Europe's independent space access and utilization through the timely and accurate information delivery regarding the space environment, and particularly hazards to both in orbit and ground infrastructure. The SSA programme is split into three main segments:

Space Weather (SWE) segment: monitoring the Sun, the solar wind, and in Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere, that can affect spaceborne and ground-based infrastructure or endanger human life or health

Near-Earth Objects (NEO) segment: detecting natural objects, such as asteroids and comets, which can potentially impact Earth

Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) segment: Tracking active and inactive satellites and space debris (collectively these items are referred to as Resident Space Objects (RSOs)).The SSA programme is being implemented as an optional ESA programme with financial participation by 14 Member States. The programme started in 2009 and its mandate was extended until 2019. The second phase of the programme received €46.5 million for the 2013-2016 period.

TAROT-South robotic observatory

TAROT (French: Télescope à Action Rapide pour les Objets Transitoires, "Quick-action telescope for transient objects") is a project of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) aimed at rapidly reacting to particular data from other astronomical surveying facilities to monitor for and registering fast changing astronomical objects and phenomena. The target of this particular project is so-called gamma-ray bursts (GRB).The TAROT-South facility is a 25 cm very fast moving optical robotic telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Able to accelerate at 120°/s2 to a top speed of 80°/s, it can begin observing within 1–1.5 seconds of being notified by a gamma-ray telescope that a gamma-ray burst is in progress and can provide fast and accurate positions of transient events within seconds.

In addition to its own observations, an important purpose of the telescope is to find an accurate source location. With its wide field of view, it can take an approximate location (±1°) from a gamma-ray detector and produce a location accurate to 1″ within a minute, for the benefit of follow-on observations by larger telescopes with longer reaction times.

It is a duplicate of the original TAROT telescope located at the Calern observatory, in France.

TheSky (astronomy software)

TheSky is an astronomy application designed to be used for educational and observational purposes. TheSky provides an extensive feature set including the following:

The display of star charts using catalogs such as USNO, UCAC4, the Hubble Guide Star Catalog, the Hipparcos Catalogue, the Tycho-2 Catalogue and the NOMAD catalog.

Planetarium features capable of depicting the sky in a realistic way, including the simulation of sky movement over time in order to predict the locations of different sky objects

Automatic telescope and focuser control using native telescope drivers as well as ASCOM.

Scriptable via JavaScript or the Component Object Model, allowing scripted operation.

Optional Add Ons to extend TheSky's functionality, including a Camera Add On to control CCD, DSLR and video cameras, focusers, filter wheels, and rotators; a Dome Add On to automate dome control; a TPoint Add On for telescope pointing analysis, automated polar alignment, telescope tracking correction (ProTrack), and automated telescope model determination (SuperModel); a Database Add On that provides the NOMAD, UCAC4 star catalogs as well as the 10x Digitized Sky Survey

Control, automation and automated PEC training of Software Bisque's own Paramount series of robotic telescope mounts.The_Sky (first named using an underscore character to separate 'The' from 'Sky' following Pascal naming conventions) was first released in 1983 for DOS and has been upgraded multiple times to support new versions of Microsoft Windows. The latest release of TheSky, called TheSkyX, is also compatible with macOS.

TheSky HD for iOS is available on the App Store.

The software is developed and distributed by Software Bisque.

Unmanned vehicle

An unmanned vehicle or uncrewed vehicle or is a vehicle without a person on board. Uncrewed vehicles can either be remote controlled or remote guided vehicles, or they can be autonomous vehicles which are capable of sensing their environment and navigating on their own.

Warner and Swasey Observatory

The Warner and Swasey Observatory is the astronomical observatory of Case Western Reserve University. Named after Worcester R. Warner and Ambrose Swasey, who built it at the beginning of the 20th century, it was initially located on Taylor Road in East Cleveland, Ohio, USA. The observatory, which at that time housed a 9.5-inch (24 cm) refractor, was donated in 1919 to the Case School of Applied Science. The newer 24-inch (61 cm) Burrell Schmidt telescope was built in 1939.

Due to rising light pollution in Cleveland, a new station in Geauga County's Montville Township was established in 1950s. Named after Jason John Nassau, the station initially housed the Burrell telescope, which was later moved to Kitt Peak National Observatory. Instead of Burrell the station was equipped with the 36-inch robotic telescope. In 2008 Nassau Station was sold to the Geauga Park District and subsequently incorporated into its Observatory Park.

The observatory currently operates the old 9.5-inch refractor (now known as the rooftop telescope) at the university's University Circle campus, and the Burrell Schmidt telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. The old site on Taylor Road was sold in 1983.

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