From Liverpool: “Liverpool Telescope group begins collaboration with National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand”

Liverpool Telescope

Liverpool Telescope

24 May 2017
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LJMU staff with collaborators from NARIT and the Thai-German Institute.

Earlier this month, a deputation of Liverpool Telescope (LT) staff visited the National Astromical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) in the city of Chiang Mai. The purpose of the visit was to begin a programme of collaborative software development, funded by STFC through the Newton Fund. The purpose of the Newton Fund is to use science and innovation partnerships to promote economic development and social welfare in partner countries.

The collaborative programme between the LT and NARIT is based around two projects: the development of a new, modern data archiving framework and a new telescope control system. At the end of the three-year programme, these products will replace the existing systems on LT and NARIT facilities, and will also be a component in the new software which will be required for the Large Robotic Telescope (Liverpool Telescope 2).

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The Liverpool Telescope (LT) is a 2-metre (6.6 ft) fully robotic Ritchey–Chrétien telescope that observes autonomously; i.e., it operates without human intervention. Professional astronomers and other registered users submit observation specifications to be considered by the telescope’s robotic control system (RCS) at any time of the day or night using an online GUI. Each night the RCS decides for itself what to observe next based on target visibility and weather conditions.

The RCS additionally has a rapid-response capability where it can automatically interrupt regular observations to slew to observe transient phenomena with higher priority, such as gamma-ray bursts.

The LT is one of the largest robotic telescopes in the world and was built by Telescope Technologies Ltd, a subsidiary company set up by Liverpool John Moores University. The telescope is owned by Liverpool John Moores University, and operated by the Astrophysics Research Institute with operational funding partly from STFC. It is sited at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma.

Along with the Faulkes Telescope North and the Faulkes Telescope South, the Liverpool Telescope is also available for use by school children around the world over the internet. The registration and time allocation for the LT is organised by the National Schools Observatory.

The Liverpool Telescope is one of the primary players in the Heterogeneous Telescope Networks Consortium, a global collaboration between major research groups in the field of robotic telescopes which seeks a standard for communication between remote telescopes, telescope users, and other scientific resources.

Plans for an improved version of the telescope, the Liverpool Telescope 2, are underway.