The Keck Interferometer links the two 10m Keck Telescopes located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. It is the first 10m class, fully AO equipped interferometer to enter operation. Further, it is the first large interferometer designed to be handed over from a design and implementation team to a separate operations team, and be used by astronomers who are not interferometer specialists. As such it offers unique challenges in reducing an extremely complex and powerful system to an apparently simple user interface, and providing a well engineered system that can be maintained by people who did not develop it.
This paper gives an overview of the control system that has been implemented for the single baseline operation of the instrument, and indicates how this will be extended to allow control of the future modes of the instrument (nulling, differential phase and astrometry).
The control system has several parts. One is for control of "slow" sub-systems, which is based in the EPICS architecture, already ubiquitous at the Keck Observatory. Another, used to control hard real time sub-systems, is based on a new infrastructure developed at JPL, programmed in C++, Java, and using CORBA for communication. This infrastructure has been developed specifically with the problems of interferometric control in mind and is used in JPL's flight testbeds as well as the Keck Interferometer. Finally, a user interface and high level control layer is in development using a variety of tools including UML based modeling in the Rhapsody tool (using C++ and CORBA), Java, and Tcl/Tk for prototyping.