Feature article in Science, Vol. 356, Issue 6337, pp. 476-479, “A global robotic telescope network helps astronomers keep up with the fast-changing sky”
Summary of article: Using standardized telescopes of diameter between 2 meter and 40 centimeters, a global network of automated telescopes lend clarity to distant stars, galaxies and even exoplanets through the use of time domain astronomy, which is a form of rapid response astronomy. Differing from the use of telescope time on conventional observatories where users book for time on the telescope months ahead, the Las Cumbres Observatory uses a scheduler to automatically schedule observation time on the network for individuals about a month in advance. Due to the use of standardized telescopes, maintenance is streamlined and less costly, making the entire network easy to setup and maintain, but which continues to yield scientifically important discoveries. Hence, rapid response astronomy fits in well with the current observatories setup where observation of new objects in the night sky could be validated more rapidly through the use of dedicated time domain observatories such as Las Cumbres Observatory, which offers fast access to telescope time for observing a faint star moving out of view of Earth-based telescopes. Such rapid response is essential if observation data is needed to confirm a finding, which may not be realized with the current slow response nature of conventional observatories and booking schedule. Capable of being fitted with modern spectrographs, the standardized telescopes offer astronomers around the world a useful tool to validate and confirm targets observed by large telescope system such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), or space based observatories such as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
Link to original article: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6337/476
Category: Interesting scientific articles, astronomy, space exploration, exoplanets,
Tags: standardized telescopes, time domain astronomy, rapid response astronomy, exoplanets, global network,