AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 173 Instrumentation: Ground Based or Airbourne
Poster, Thursday, 9:20am-4:00pm, January 12, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[173.15] Designing the CCD/Transit Instrument II (CTI-II) Data Pipeline for the Near Earth Space Surveillance Initiative (NESSI) Project

P. Zimmer, J. T. McGraw (University of New Mexico), CTI-II Computing Collective Collaboration

The University of New Mexico is currently implementing the CCD/Transit Instrument Version II (CTI-II), a 1.8m meridian-pointing telescope, and equipping it with a modern focal plane array and wide-field optics for deployment at McDonald Observatory. The current design of CTI-II is expected to generate over two hundred gigapixels of image data per night of operation from a one degree wide strip of the sky in five bandpasses. These data will feed both realtime and near-realtime analysis pipelines, the design of which is driven by the principle science projects of CTI-II. However, the goals of these analysis systems are common to many sky surveys: precision astrometry, precision photometry, and the ability to facilitate rapid follow-up observations.

Given the potential of new optics and detectors coupled with a unique, dedicated observing mode, several key science projects have been chosen as drivers of the ultimate design of CTI-II:

Red Star Astrometry -- The data pipeline must accurately and precisely measure stellar positions with respect to existing astrometric standards to well within the inherent systematic optical system errors (< 0.003” rms).

AGN Reverberations -- The CTI-II data system must be able to recover the intensities of AGN cores across a wide dynamic range under varying seeing and background conditions to within the errors expected from the optical system and detectors. Supernova Detection -- A supernova candidate detected by CTI-II enters the cooperating Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) field-of-regard after approximately one hour. Therefore, the realtime portion of the data analysis pipeline must identify supernova candidates, characterize them, and alert the astronomer-on-call in less than fifteen minutes, with a very low false positive rate, under varying seeing and background conditions.

We have established grassroots collaborations with the Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments at UNM to help address these challenges, engaging both students and faculty in the design and implementation process.

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