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Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network blogs

Robotic scheduling of comets now available

3 Oct 2014, 17:37 UTC
Robotic scheduling of comets now available
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

We are continually updating our systems with hardware and software, to improve the capabilities of our network. One major upgrade we have recently made is to allow adaptive scheduling of comets. We have had the capability to adaptively schedule asteroids, using the statistics astronomers know about the orbit of these objects (called Orbital Elements) since 1 April 2014*. This is a complex problem for the robotic scheduler because minor planets (asteroids and comets) are continuously moving, making them pin down to observe in a flexible way.Although asteroids and comets move around the Solar System in very similar ways, comets can have orbits which are not closed; many comets only visit the Solar System once, on what are called hyperbolic orbits. For this reason, the orbital elements are slightly different to asteroids.We are very pleased to announce that from today (3 Oct 2014) we can now handle comets, and are excited about the scientific discoveries this will enable. Many thanks to the whole software team for making this happen.Above is an animation of comet Siding Spring from our first set of observations performed using this new handling of cometary orbits, from the LCOGT Cerro Tololo node, using a 1-meter telescope through ...

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