Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) has built the Network of Robotic Echelle Spectrographs (NRES), consisting of four identical, high-resolution optical spectrographs, each fiber-fed simultaneously by up to two 1-meter telescopes and a calibration source. Two units have been installed and are currently executing scientific observations. A third unit has been installed and is presently in commissioning. A fourth unit has been shipped to site and will be installed in mid 2018. Operating on four separate continents in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, these instruments comprise a globally-distributed, autonomous spectrograph facility for stellar classification and high-precision radial velocity of bright stars. Simulations suggest we will achieve long-term radial velocity precision of 3 m/s in less than an hour for stars with V < 12. Radial velocity precision of 75 m/s has already been demonstrated with our automatic data-processing pipeline across multiple sites. Work is ongoing to improve several NRES system components including telescope control (robotic source acquisition in particular) and the data-processing pipeline. In this document we briefly overview the NRES design, its purpose and goals, results achieved to date in the field, and the ongoing development effort to improve instrument performance.
Las Cumbres Observatory operates a global network of robotic telescopes with two classes of spectrograph distributed across telescopes with primary mirrors ranging from 1.0m to 2.0m. We present strategies and algorithms for performing precise robotic acquisition of a target source to a specified position in the focal plane and then maintaining the source in position for the duration of the spectrographic exposure(s). A high level algorithm with the ability to choose from a set of strategies for acquisition allows us to use a common code base to solve significantly different problems. We describe the three major components of each robotic acquisition: field identification to point the telescope precisely to the target coordinates; target identification and pointing refinement to precisely acquire the identified source; long term guiding to maintain the acquired position for the duration of the spectrographic observation.
Las Cumbres Observatory Global Network (LCOGT) is building the Network of Robotic Echelle Spectrographs (NRES), which will consist of six identical, optical (390 - 860 nm) high-precision spectrographs, each fiber-fed simultaneously by up to two 1-meter telescopes and a thorium argon calibration source. We plan to install one at up to 6 observatory sites in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, creating a single, globally-distributed, autonomous spectrograph facility using up to twelve 1-meter telescopes. Simulations suggest we will achieve long-term radial velocity precision of 3 m/s in less than an hour for stars brighter than V = 12. We have been funded with NSF MRI and ATI grants, and expect our first spectrograph to be deployed in fall 2016, with the full network operation of 5 or 6 units beginning in 2017. We will briefly overview the NRES design, goals, robotic operation, and status. In addition, we will discuss early results from our prototype spectrograph, the laboratory and on-sky performance of our first production unit, and the ongoing software development effort to bring this resource online.
The DEdicated MONitor of EXotransits (DEMONEX) is a low-cost, 0.5 meter, robotic telescope assembled
mostly from commercially-available parts. The primary goal of DEMONEX is to monitor bright stars hosting
transiting planets in order to provide a homogeneous data set of precise relative photometry for all transiting
systems visible from its location at Winer Observatory in Sonoita, Arizona. This photometry will be used to refine
the planetary parameters, search for additional planets via transit timing variations, place limits on the emission
of the planet from secondary eclipses, and search for additional transiting planets in some systems. Despite its
modest size, DEMONEX achieves a signal-to-noise ratio per transit that is comparable to that obtained with
larger, 1m-class telescopes, because of its short readout time and high z-band quantum efficiency. However, the
main advantage of DEMONEX is that it can be used every night for transit follow-up. With the 39 known
transiting planets visible from Winer Observatory, over 90% of all nights have at least one full event to observe.
We describe the hardware, and the scheduling, observing, and data reduction software, and we present some
results from the first two years of operation. Synoptic surveys coming online will undoubtedly uncover a plethora
of variable objects which will require inexpensive, robotic, dedicated telescopes to adequately characterize. The
outline followed and lessons learned from this project will be broadly applicable for constructing such facilities.