AAS 202nd Meeting, May 2003
Session 38 Robotic Astronomical Observatories
Topical Oral, Wednesday, May 28, 2003, 8:30-10:00am and 10:45am-12:30pm, 209/210

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[38.11] Robotic Observatory System Design-Specification Considerations for Achieving Long-Term Sustainable Precision Performance

J. D. Wray (SciTech Astronomical Research)

The robotic observatory telescope must point precisely on the target object, and then track autonomously to a fraction of the FWHM of the system PSF for durations of ten to twenty minutes or more. It must retain this precision while continuing to function at rates approaching thousands of observations per night for all its years of useful life. These stringent requirements raise new challenges unique to robotic telescope systems design.

Critical design considerations are driven by the applicability of the above requirements to all systems of the robotic observatory, including telescope and instrument systems, telescope-dome enclosure systems, combined electrical and electronics systems, environmental (e.g. seeing) control systems and integrated computer control software systems. Traditional telescope design considerations include the effects of differential thermal strain, elastic flexure, plastic flexure and slack or backlash with respect to focal stability, optical alignment and angular pointing and tracking precision. Robotic observatory design must holistically encapsulate these traditional considerations within the overall objective of maximized long-term sustainable precision performance. This overall objective is accomplished through combining appropriate mechanical and dynamical system characteristics with a full-time real-time telescope mount model feedback computer control system.

Important design considerations include: identifying and reducing quasi-zero-backlash; increasing size to increase precision; directly encoding axis shaft rotation; pointing and tracking operation via real-time feedback between precision mount model and axis mounted encoders; use of monolithic construction whenever appropriate for sustainable mechanical integrity; accelerating dome motion to eliminate repetitive shock; ducting internal telescope air to outside dome; and the principal design criteria: maximizing elastic repeatability while minimizing slack, plastic deformation and hysteresis to facilitate long-term repeatably precise pointing and tracking performance.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.SciTechAstro.com. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jwray@scitechastro.com

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.