Vision of intelligent observatories, a boon for fast transient follow-up programs: Efforts at South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), Cape Town
South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town
Date & Time :
The advancement in power-optimized control systems, computation capabilities and minimizing algorithms for solving complex equations, etc., have brought the concept of an intelligent observatory to reality. The intelligence of an observatory is a strong function of local needs and resources. The Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO), which runs a network of 25 telescopes hosted at 7 different sites around the globe as a single instrument, is one example of a multi-node, completely robotic observing facility. Photometric surveys such as Zwicky Transient Factory (ZTF) and Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) are expected to discover many optical transients in the northern and southern skies. Characterizing all of those becomes a big challenge for the astronomical community. Robotic observing facilities have merits in running or participating in such efforts. SAAO's intelligent observatory programme, with its ambitious plans of combining optical and radio observing facilities in the long-term, has advanced to upgrade several existing optical telescopes at Sutherland to semi-or near autonomous operating modes.
The Indian astronomical community, equipped with many optical facilities like DoT, MIRO, HCT etc., have the possibility of playing a key role in characterizing the optical transients. However, the modernization of observing request submission, scheduling, data pipelines, data distribution system, and archives all connected to a virtual central brain help the projects mentioned earlier and the ongoing local projects. In this talk, I shall mostly discuss the concept, vision, and some examples of what SAAO is heading to.
About Speaker :
The speaker is a post-doctoral fellow at the South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa. He is also an adjunct senior lecturer at the Centre for Space Research, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus in South Africa. This seminar is a part of the activities "75 years of India's Independence: Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" at ARIES.