27 July 2016 First results of the Test-Bed Telescopes (TBT) project: Cebreros telescope commissioning
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The TBT project is being developed under ESA's General Studies and Technology Programme (GSTP), and shall implement a test-bed for the validation of an autonomous optical observing system in a realistic scenario within the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme of the European Space Agency (ESA). The goal of the project is to provide two fully robotic telescopes, which will serve as prototypes for development of a future network. The system consists of two telescopes, one in Spain and the second one in the Southern Hemisphere. The telescope is a fast astrograph with a large Field of View (FoV) of 2.5 x 2.5 square-degrees and a plate scale of 2.2 arcsec/pixel. The tube is mounted on a fast direct-drive mount moving with speed up to 20 degrees per second. The focal plane hosts a 2-port 4K x 4K back-illuminated CCD with readout speeds up to 1MHz per port. All these characteristics ensure good survey performance for transients and fast moving objects. Detection software and hardware are optimised for the detection of NEOs and objects in high Earth orbits (objects moving from 0.1-40 arcsec/second). Nominal exposures are in the range from 2 to 30 seconds, depending on the observational strategy. Part of the validation scenario involves the scheduling concept integrated in the robotic operations for both sensors. Every night it takes all the input needed and prepares a schedule following predefined rules allocating tasks for the telescopes. Telescopes are managed by RTS2 control software, that performs the real-time scheduling of the observation and manages all the devices at the observatory.1 At the end of the night the observing systems report astrometric positions and photometry of the objects detected. The first telescope was installed in Cebreros Satellite Tracking Station in mid-2015. It is currently in the commissioning phase and we present here the first results of the telescope. We evaluate the site characteristics and the performance of the TBT Cebreros telescope in the different modes and strategies. Average residuals for asteroids are under 0.5 arcsecond, while they are around 1 arcsecond for upper-MEO* and GEO† satellites. The survey depth is dimmer than magnitude 18.5 for 30-second exposures with the usual seeing around 4 arcseconds.
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Francisco Ocaña, Aitor Ibarra , Elena Racero, Ángel Montero, Jirí Doubek, Vicente Ruiz, "First results of the Test-Bed Telescopes (TBT) project: Cebreros telescope commissioning", Proc. SPIE 9906, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes VI, 990666 (27 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233142; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2233142


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