DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 18. Extra Solar Planets II
Poster, Highlighted on, Wednesday, September 3, 2003, 3:00-5:30pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[18.03] The Robotically Controlled Telescope and the Search for Extra-Solar Planets

D. R. Davis, S. B. Howell, M. E. Everett (Planetary Science Institute), R. Gelderman (Western Kentucky University), E. Guinan (Villanova University), J. R. Mattox (Francis Marion University), C. H. McGruder (Western Kentucky University), D. K. Walter (South Carolina State)

The 1.3 m telescope on Kitt Peak has been refurbished by the Robotically Controlled Telescope (RCT) consortium (Western Kentucky University, Planetary Science Institute, South Carolina State University, and Villanova University). This telescope will be operated as a robotically controlled observatory where the observing parameters for various science programs are entered into a master scheduler which then carries out the observations in an optimal fashion. The scheduler allows for rapid response to transient events such as Gamma-ray bursters, CV flares or AGN eruptions. The consortium plans to commence a full program of science and educational activities beginning in the fall, 2003.

High-precision photometry is one of the principal capabilities of this telescope and we anticipate carrying out a photometric search for extra-solar planets as one of the main science programs. Photometric precision of ~1 mmag per 180-sec exposure has been demonstrated in preliminary tests. The photometric capabilities and extra-solar planet search strategy for the RCT will be presented.

Refurbishment of the RCT has been made possible by NASA grant NAG5-8762.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.