The eight Maunakea Observatories continue to excel and expand but have traditionally been isolated facilities despite their close proximity to each other, with little formal sharing of human or technical resources. This has been changing recently, led by multi-telescope observing time swaps, budget challenges and the shared security pressures of Maunakea summit operations. Over the past two years, a series of Maunakea Operations and Engineering workshops have been held, discussing shared issues and novel ways of resource lending and sharing. The ideas and implementation of the first operations sharing initiatives that resulted will be presented, along with the lessons learned by reviewing the shared experiences of this wide range of highly productive facilities.
The W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO) has a good track record at addressing large critical faults which impact observing. Our performance tracking and correcting chronic minor faults has been mixed, yet this class of problems has a significant negative impact on scientific productivity and staff effectiveness. We have taken steps to address this shortcoming. This paper outlines the creation of a program to identify, categorize and rank these chronic operational issues, track them over time, and develop management options for their resolution. The success of the program at identifying these chronic operational issues and the advantages of dedicating observatory resources to this endeavor are presented.
We describe the goals, guiding principles, and implementation of the Keck Observatory technical operations model and how scientific success is critically dependent on the symbiotic connection with the overall strategy of the observatory. We examine management approaches, organization and staffing that result from this approach. We discuss the choices made at the observatory in balancing regular operations and new scientific and technical capabilities, and the tradeoffs and consequences of these choices. We then elaborate on our plans to evolve operations in the areas of people and processes over the next several years. Finally, we address the applicability of the Keck model to the next generation of telescopes.
In order to validate various assumptions about the operating environment of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT),
to validate the modeling packages being used to guide the design work for the TMT and to directly investigate
the expected operation of several subsystems we have embarked on an extensive campaign of environmental
measurements at the Keck telescopes. We have measured and characterized the vibration environment around
the observatory floor and at certain locations on the telescope over a range of operating conditions. Similarly the
acoustic environment around the telescope and primary mirror has been characterized for frequencies above 2 Hz.
The internal and external wind and temperature fields are being measured using combined sonic anemometer
and PRT sensors. We are measuring the telescope position error and drive torque signals in order to investigate
the wind induced telescope motions. A scintillometer mounted on the telescope is measuring the optical
turbulence inside the telescope tube. This experimental work is supplemented by an extensive analysis of telescope
and engineering sensor log files and measurements, primarily those of accelerometers located on the main
telescope optics, primary mirror segment edge sensor error signals (residuals), telescope structure temperature
measurements and the telescope status information.
The operations model of the Keck Observatory and the factors that allow it to operate with unprecedented scientific
success while maintaining the lowest operating cost to capital ratio of the 8m-10m class of telescopes are examined. We
describe matching of resources to operating requirements and steps taken to optimize the effectiveness of the overall
operation. We describe how strategic goals, operating philosophy and detailed planning mesh to match science
objectives with technological capability. We conclude by examining how operations design drives both long term
operating cost and realization of the potential inherent in the initial capital investment.
Acquiring a desired object in the field of view, focusing the telescope and then guiding during the exposure are essential aspects of making astronomical observations. The majority of facilities provided for these functions at the Observatory are more than 10 years old. The operability and technical performance of these facilities are known to impact the efficiency of observing. The current systems provide only limited capabilities for monitoring the quality of the image delivered by the telescope. Notably, the Keck telescopes are the only large telescopes that do not provide automatic focus control. The goal of this project is to develop an integrated system for acquisition, guiding and image quality measurement for the Keck telescopes. In this paper we report on the design of the hardware and software for the new system. The system will consist of three major components: a visible wavelength band acquisition camera, image quality measurement capability, and software for acquisition, guiding and image quality monitoring. This system will replace the acquisition and guiding hardware and software for existing instruments and also become the observatory standard for new instruments. The expected benefits to science include increased efficiency for spectroscopic observations, improved quality for imaging observations, and valuable supplementary data on delivered image quality during all observations. The cameras will be equipped with photometric filters and will be calibrated to enable auxiliary science functions such as photometry. Observing efficiency will be improved with the increased sensitivity of the acquisition cameras, the improved performance of guiding and focusing, and more efficient acquisition and setup of observations.