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Proceedings Paper

Implementing extended observing at the JCMT
Author(s): Craig Walther; Jessica Dempsey; Ian Campbell
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Paper Abstract

The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) is the largest single dish submillimetre telescope in the world. Recently the Joint Astronomy Centre (JAC) has learned that the JCMT will no longer receive financial support from its original supporting agencies after September 2014. There is significant pressure to complete some surveys that have been in progress at the JCMT for many years now. With the goal of completing a higher percentage of these surveys it was decided to take advantage of the hours between when the telescope operator leaves the telescope and when the day crew arrives. These hours generally have reasonable seeing and low column integrated water vapor, so they are good for observing. This observing is being performed remotely, in Hilo, without staff at the telescope, by staff members who do not have telescope operation as part of their job descriptions. This paper describes the hardware changes necessary to implement remote observing at JCMT. It also describes the software needed for remote, fail safe, operation of the telescope. The protocols and rules for passing the control of the telescope between the various groups are discussed. Since these Extended Operators are not expert telescope operators, the system was simplified as much as possible, but some training was necessary and proper checklists are essential. Due to the success of the first phase of Extending Observing at the JCMT, the hours when the weather is good and no one is at the telescope, but no day crew is on the way, are also now being utilized. Extended Observing has already yielded a considerable amount of science observing time.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 August 2014
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 9149, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems V, 91492G (6 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2056953
Show Author Affiliations
Craig Walther, Joint Astronomy Ctr. (United States)
Jessica Dempsey, Joint Astronomy Ctr. (United States)
Ian Campbell, Joint Astronomy Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9149:
Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems V
Alison B. Peck; Chris R. Benn; Robert L. Seaman, Editor(s)

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