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Robotic Telescope Network to be Built

Photonics.com
Oct 2011
MADRID, Oct. 13, 2011 — A world network of robotic telescopes is to be developed as part of a European citizen science project. The network, which will allow any citizen to connect and share observation time, will offer free open access via the Internet. The project was launched recently at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid's (UPM) Facultad de Informática.

The project, called Gloria (GLObal Robotic telescopes Intelligent Array for e-Science), will be a tool for amateur astronomy research using robotic telescopes and astronomy data available to the public from Gloria’s database and from databases of other organizations.

Gloria is a three-year project with a budget of €2.5 million.

Gloria draws on the experience of the Montegancedo Observatory, located at the Facultad de Informática. The observatory is remotely controlled using Ciclope Astro software, maintained by the UPM's Ciclope group. This software will be used by the global robotic telescope network.


(Image: Montegancedo Observatory, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid's Facultad de Informática)

Ciclope Astro provides a number of tools for running astronomy experiments, scenario building and remote telescope, camera and dome control. Any citizen can experience astronomy firsthand by visiting the observatory from home.

A network of 17 telescopes will be the seed of the Gloria project, which will offer free Web 2.0 access to citizens.

The first of these robotic telescopes will be available via the network within a year.

All the robotized telescopes will share the same software, maintained by Gloria project members.

Two user experiments will be run as part of the project. The experiments will be coordinated by the University of Oxford creators of Galaxy Zoo, an online initiative that invites members to classify around one million galaxies.

Gloria will also organize educational activities, such as broadcasting astronomy events, to attract new users. It will sponsor four Sky Live Internet television missions.

Telescope use will be managed using the karma technique, which defines a reputation or rating. This method, which has been successfully applied by Web 2.0 sites, automatically distributes the observing times of major users according to the network use criterion.

This will make Gloria a network for citizen science, capable of increasing research quality through open networks and e-infrastructures.

During the project, a foundation will be set up to safeguard any documentation and open software generated. The foundation will also ensure that the community of partner citizens can be maintained and continue growing even after the project ends.

Gloria targets all citizens with an interest in astronomy who can contemplate the universe, learn more about astronomy, and directly participate in scientific experiments from their own homes.

Francisco Sánchez, director of the Montegancedo Observatory, is the coordinator of the project, which has 13 partners from Russia, Chile, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain.

For more information, visit: www.fi.upm.es


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