Remote observing

A significant amount of effort was spend on defining and developing the remote observing system for the NORDFORSK/Onsala summer school at Tuorla observatory in Finland. For the course specific instructions were provided for setting-up the system and performing the observations from the remote site. The main issue is as always the band-width which does not allow for the same interface that we use on-site. In itself this is not a major problem, but it does forces us to define set of interfaces & instructions for remote observing. However, the current remote observing system does more closely follow the general set-up and feel of the normal observing system.

Our experience with the observations was very good, and all groups got good data. Thanks to the overall good transfer speed observing went smoothly, practically speaking as if in visitor mode, except for one small problem in the selection of a guide star from small areas when using the beam-switch mode (the only case where a person in the control room had to intervene in the observations). This issue has now been addressed (see below).

Our aim is now to unify the interfaces for on-site and remote observing. We have been experimenting with different technologies, and before the next remote-observing run we plan to install and test a terminal server that would allow us to simplify the technical aspects of remote observing, while allowing the users to interact with our system in the exact same way as locally.

Thomas Augusteijn 2010-02-09