Uniquely designed with two 8.4m mirrors, a 22.8m interferometric baseline, and the collecting area of an 11.8m telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory (LBTO), has a narrow window of opportunity to exploit its status as the “first” of the ELTs. Prompted by urgency to maximum scientific output during this favorable interval, we undertook a multi-year project to reshape the user experience. The initial stage, implementing a new suite of software to facilitate proposal submission, script creation, binocular planning, and nighttime execution, is nearing completion. Reuse and adaptation of existing software, particularly Gemini Observatory’s cross-platform PIT and OT, proved critical, although as expected, we encountered many challenges presented by our one-of-a-kind binocular design and operations. We hope to leverage our success in the early phases of this project toward further improvement of our science operations model, specifically, augmenting our nighttime operations to include observatory-led observing. We plan to focus this observing mode primarily on instruments that require block scheduling and/or superb and rare conditions such as our newly commissioned GLAO system, ARGOS. In this paper, we outline our workflow, describe lessons learned, and present our resulting software products. We also detail future development toward our ultimate goal, improved efficiency and user interactions throughout every step of the observing experience.
In this paper we detail the process the LBTO followed to chose software for reuse and modification to support binocular queue operations. We outline the survey of initial candidate solutions, how and why the final selection was made, and describe our requirements gap analysis for LBTO binocular use. We provide details of our software development approach including a project road map and phased release strategy. We provide details of added LBTO functionality, discuss issues, and suggest some reuse lessons learned. We conclude with discussion of known desired enhancements to be addressed in future release cycles.
The Large Binocular Telescope Observatory (LBTO), a joint scientific venture between the Instituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF), LBT Beteiligungsgesellschaft (LBTB), University of Arizona, Ohio State University (OSU), and the Research Corporation, is one of the newest additions to the world’s collection of large optical/infrared ground-based telescopes. With its unique, twin 8.4m mirror design providing a 22.8 meter interferometric baseline and the collecting area of an 11.8m telescope, LBT has a window of opportunity to exploit its singular status as the “first” of the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs). Prompted by urgency to maximize scientific output during this favorable interval, LBTO recently re-evaluated its operations model and developed a new strategy that augments classical observing with queue. Aided by trained observatory staff, queue mode will allow for flexible, multi-instrument observing responsive to site conditions. Our plan is to implement a staged rollout that will provide many of the benefits of queue observing sooner rather than later -- with more bells and whistles coming in future stages. In this paper, we outline LBTO's new scientific model, focusing specifically on our “lean” resourcing and development, reuse and adaptation of existing software, challenges presented from our one-of-a-kind binocular operations, and lessons learned. We also outline further stages of development and our ultimate goals for queue.