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Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

Observatory Sciences won the contract to produce the software that will control the pointing of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. This part of the LSST software is known as the Pointing Component. In June 2018, the Final Design Review of the Pointing Component was successfully completed following a meeting in Brighton attended by staff from the LSST project office in Tucson, Arizona as well as OSL staff and consultants. The LSST is one of the largest US federally funded projects in optical astronomy and OSL won the contract through an open tender process. The LSST telescope will conduct a 10-year survey of the sky that will deliver a 200 petabyte set of images and data and address some of the most pressing questions about the structure and evolution of the universe. Its 8.4-metre telescope uses a special three-mirror design, creating an exceptionally wide field of view, and has the ability to survey the entire sky in only three nights. The camera must produce data of extremely high quality with minimal downtime and maintenance, so has over three billion pixels of solid state detectors. More than 30 terabytes of data must be processed and stored each night which is producing the largest non-proprietary data set in the world. The 1.2m Auxiliary Telescope will be used to measure atmospheric transmission, which relates to how directly light is transmitting through the Earth’s atmosphere in a given spot, as opposed to being absorbed or scattered. This is then used to calculate a colour correction for light received by the main telescope. This telescope was donated to LSST and was previously known as Calypso when located at the Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona. Following refurbishment, it is now being installed and commissioned at the LSST site at Cerro Pachon in Chile. OSL’s Pointing Component software will be able to control both the Main and Auxiliary LSST telescopes. They can be operated together so that the Auxiliary Telescope follows the pointing of the LSST Main telescope as closely as possible. Observatory Sciences has employed two of the world’s leading experts on telescope control systems as consultants for the LSST work: Pat Wallace and David Terrett, who both have extensive experience with such projects. Pat Wallace is the author of TCSpk, the definitive software package used for large telescope pointing and David Terrett has produced TPK, a C++ class library for telescope pointing, layered on TCSpk.

Software for Astronomy and Physics Projects