PROMPT & Skynet
Transient Universe Workshop 2006
The six domes of PROMPT at CTIO in Chile. (In the foreground is
GONG and behind is the 1.3m telescope.)
Que Scheduled Telescope Network
PROMPT is a set of six robotically controlled telescopes, allowing rapid simultaneous
observations of optical and near-IR passbands. It is a subset of telescopes controlled
by Skynet; a scalable que based scheduling system that faciliates coordinated observations
of objects or transient events from multiple locations.
PROMPT stands for Panchromatic Robotic Optical Monitoring and
Polarimetry Telescopes. The PROMPT telescopes are six 0.41 m
Ritchey-Chretien telescopes, designed by RC Optical systems.
Five are outfitted with an Apogee Alta U47+ CCD
(1024 x 1024 pixels) giving us a FOV of roughly 10' x 10'
(~0.58 arcsec per pixel). Each mirror and camera coating
combination has been optimized for a different wavelength range,
including a u-band optimized telescope. The sixth will be
equipped with a LN2-cooled Micro-Cam by Rockwell Scientific for
NIR imaging (mid-2006 deployment). The telescopes are on
rapidly slewing (~9 degrees per second) Paramount ME mounts by
Software Bisque and housed in clamshell domes by Astro Haven.
This set up gives the telescopes unobstructed access to most
of the sky and the ability to point anywhere in the sky quickly.
This setup allows for imaging in ugrRizYJH, six of them
simultaneously. In addition, a polarimeter that is being designed
and built at UNC-Chapel Hill's Goodman Laboratory for
Astronomical Instruments will be installed on one optical band
telescope in mid-2006.
One of the 0.41m (16in) RC Optical Systems telescopes on a Paramount ME mount.
The facility is located at CTIO outside of La Serena, Chile. It has been built on the ridge between
GONG and the 1.3m telescope. This site has excellent seeing conditions and a large percentage of
clear nights. Although PROMPT is run remotely, there the support staff at CTIO is able to make
adjustements and repairs when needed.
The brain that controls PROMPT is Skynet. Developed at UNC - Chapel Hill and written in Labview,
Skynet is a priortized que based scheduling and control program. Jobs can be entered and retrieved
from any location via a PHP-enabled web server that interacts with the MySQL database for job
scheduling. Observations are then dispatched from Skynet to dumb-by-design Terminator programs that
control each telescope. The data is then automatically transferred back to a 1.1 terabyte RAID 5 array
with tape backup at UNC.
Skynet and the Terminator's have been designed to work with any telescope and mount that can be
controlled by Maxim DL and The Sky in order to be able to quickly and easily add more telescopes to the
3 Faculty -- D. Reichart, J.C. Clemens & C. Evans
1 Software Engineer -- J.A. Crain
1 Postdoc -- A. LaCluyze
3 Graduate Students -- M. Nysewander, K. Ivarsen, & A. Trotter
4 Undergraduate Student -- A. Foster, J. Haislip, J. Kirschbrown, & C. Macleod
The Rockwell Scientific Micro-Cam for near-IR imaging (to be deployed mid-2006.)
In testing and commissioning phase now (early-2006), PROMPT should be fully operational in mid-2006.
Both PROMPT and Skynet will continue to operate indefinately as long as their usefulness and
PROMPT is funded by the National Science Foundation, the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, Leonard Goodman, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, Dudley Observatory, Henry Cox, and the Pisgah Astronomical
Short and Long Term Goals
- Major construction completed and RCOS telescopes deployed (Dec 2005)
- Early science begins (Jan 2006)
- Deployment of Micro-Cam and polarimeter (mid-2006)
Last modified: Fri March 3 12:00:40 EST 2006