6 August 2014 Scheduling and calibration strategy for continuous radio monitoring of 1700 sources every three days
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The Owens Valley Radio Observatory 40 meter telescope is currently monitoring a sample of about 1700 blazars every three days at 15 GHz, with the main scientific goal of determining the relation between the variability of blazars at radio and gamma-rays as observed with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The time domain relation between radio and gamma-ray emission, in particular its correlation and time lag, can help us determine the location of the high-energy emission site in blazars, a current open question in blazar research. To achieve this goal, continuous observation of a large sample of blazars in a time scale of less than a week is indispensable. Since we only look at bright targets, the time available for target observations is mostly limited by source observability, calibration requirements and slewing of the telescope. Here I describe the implementation of a practical solution to this scheduling, calibration, and slewing time minimization problem. This solution combines ideas from optimization, in particular the traveling salesman problem, with astronomical and instrumental constraints. A heuristic solution using well established optimization techniques and astronomical insights particular to this situation, allow us to observe all the sources in the required three days cadence while obtaining reliable calibration of the radio flux densities. Problems of this nature will only be more common in the future and the ideas presented here can be relevant for other observing programs.
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Walter Max-Moerbeck, Walter Max-Moerbeck, } "Scheduling and calibration strategy for continuous radio monitoring of 1700 sources every three days", Proc. SPIE 9149, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems V, 914925 (6 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2057112; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2057112

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