Robots in Astronomy

Baruch, John, E. F. (1992) Robots in Astronomy. Vistas in Astronomy, 35. pp. 399-438. ISSN 0083-6656


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This paper follows the growth of robotics and automation in industry and astronomy. It discusses the different purposes for which automation is used in observational astronomy and compares the problems of robot development in industry with the experiences in astronomy. The disillusionment with robotics after the excitement and promise of the sixties is evaluated. Modern ideas of the robot as a personal assistant are developed for application in astronomy. The paper discusses how technology steers our direction of investigations in astronomy, and colours our views of the universe. It is argued that robotics in astronomy will open up whole new areas of investigation that are as likely to be as surprising and exciting as many other new avenues which astronomy has taken. It reviews the most fertile areas for robotic observing and develops an outline design. The necessary technological developments for specific types of observational investigations are detailed. Current programmes of robotic and automated telescopes are listed and the case made for international cooperation to agree formats, interfaces and standards. With standard data formats robotic telescopes can be a world resource that can be addressed by any observer, robotic or human. Standard interfaces will ensure that robotic systems can be broken down into units, particularly software units, that can be made freely available to encourage collaboration. Alternatively new software can be developed to link to standard interfaces by those who wish to improve the systems and compete. The paper concludes with a brief look at the future for robotic systems in astronomy.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
RTSRE Related Research
Depositing User: Mr Saeed Salimpour
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2017 06:28
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2018 09:25

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