Software architecture for an unattended remotely controlled telescope

Lucas, Robert and Kolb, Ulrich (2011). Software architecture for an unattended remotely controlled telescope. Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 121(5) pp. 265–269.



PIRATE (Physics Innovations Robotic Astronomical Telescope Explorer) consists of a14 inch (35 cm) f/10 Schmidt Cassegrain telescope (a Celestron 14) on a robotic mount, in a robotic dome on top of the main observatory building at the Observatori Astronomic de Mallorca (OAM).

PIRATE's main duties are for supporting research and teaching and it is the latter that brings quite stringent requirements for security whilst still offering the students comprehensive access and a rich experience. We cannot rely on the students closing the dome in bad weather, it must happen automatically. Additionally the observatory site is commonly unmanned during observing sessions, i.e. there is no one there to re-boot PCs, remove dust caps, attach dew shields, or make the telescope safe during bad weather. We have to achieve all these things without local assistance or remove the need for them in the first place.

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