Discovery Channel Telescope control
The facilities and infrastructure for the Discovery Channel Telescope at
a new site in Arizona, USA, are due for completion in 2011,
with telescope control software written by Observatory Sciences Ltd.
The Discovery Channel Telescope will be a powerful tool for many areas of
modern astrophysics, from studies of the solar system to fundamental work
in stellar, Galactic, and extragalactic astronomy. Located 40 miles
outside Flagstaff, atop a cinder cone at a site known as Happy Jack, it
will be among the most technically sophisticated ground-based telescopes
of its size, with the work from OSL helping to deliver many of the advanced
features which will optimise its performance.
The 4.2m aperture telescope, built by Lowell Observatory in partnership
with Discovery Communications, will be the fifth largest in the continental
United States, and will complement Lowell’s four existing research telescopes
sited east of Flagstaff, Arizona. The telescope is expected to be completed
at a cost of $42 million, of which $6 million has been donated by John
Hendricks – the founder and Chairman of Discovery Communications, a
longstanding member of the Lowell Observatory Advisory Board, and an
enthusiastic supporter of astronomy and space research.
Projects for the Discovery Channel Telescope include a survey of Kuiper
Belt objects orbiting the sun beyond Neptune, comprehensive studies of
comets (which in turn contain clues to the origins of the solar system
itself), and the formation and evolution of galaxies. The DCT, with its
unique ability to switch rapidly between instruments at its
Ritchey-Chretien focus, will allow Lowell astronomers and guest observers
to carry out research difficult or impossible to do elsewhere.
Lowell Observatory has a proud history of scientific findings, including
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the discovery of the redshift of galaxies in 1912 that led ultimately to
the realisation that the universe is expanding, and the discovery of Pluto
in 1930. Today, 20 astronomers use the Lowell facilities to conduct research
in diverse areas of astronomy and planetary science.