29 July 2010 Mopra remote observing: a story of innovation and success
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Abstract
The Mopra Radio Telescope is a 22m single-dish radio telescope located near Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia. Its receiver systems cover the 3mm, 7mm and 12mm bands for single-dish observing, as well as the 6/3cm and 20/13cm bands used for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). The remote location of the telescope, a good day's drive from Sydney, made it a good candidate to implement remote observing capabilities which would no longer require observers to travel to the telescope, but bring the telescope to them. In a first step this was implemented in a controlled environment three years ago. It enabled remote observing from a dedicated workstation at the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) control building some 160km away from the observatory. In a second step two years ago, remote observing was extended to allow observing from any location in the world for qualifying observers. There were a number of challenges that needed to be addressed, from telescope safety to internet and data link reliability, computer security, and providing the observers with adequate situation awareness tools. The uptake by observers has been very good with over 40% of the observing in 2009 having been executed remotely. Further, many small and unallocated time slices were able to be productively used as they would not have warranted a trip to the observatory in their own merit but were usable thanks to remote observing. This helped push the productivity of the Mopra telescope in 2009 to the highest figure in its 17 year history.
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Balthasar T. Indermuehle, Balthasar T. Indermuehle, Philip G. Edwards, Philip G. Edwards, } "Mopra remote observing: a story of innovation and success", Proc. SPIE 7737, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems III, 773715 (29 July 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.863608; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.863608
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