Pi of the Sky is a system of wide field of view robotic telescopes, which search for short timescale astrophysical phenomena, especially for prompt optical GRB emission. The system was designed for autonomous operation, monitoring a large fraction of the sky to a depth of 12m−13m and with time resolution of the order of 10 seconds. Custom designed CCD cameras are equipped with Canon lenses f = 85 mm, f/d = 1.2 and cover 20° × 20° of the sky each. The final system with 16 cameras on 4 equatorial mounts was completed in 2014 at the INTA El Arenosillo Test Centre in Spain.
GRB160625B was an extremely bright GRB with three distinct emission episodes. Cameras of the Pi of the Sky observatory in Spain were not observing the position of the GRB160625B prior to the first emission episode. Observations started only after receiving Fermi/GBM trigger, about 140 seconds prior to the second emission. As the position estimate taken from the Fermi alert and used to position the telescope was not very accurate, the actual position of the burst happened to be in the overlap region of two cameras, resulting in two independent sets of measurements. Light curves from both cameras were reconstructed using the Luiza framework. No object brighter than 12.4m (3σ limit) was observed prior to the second GRB emission. An optical flash was identified on an image starting -5.9s before the time of the Fermi/LAT trigger, brightening to about 8m on the next image and then becoming gradually dimmer, fading below our sensitivity after about 400s.
Emission features as measured in different spectral bands indicate that the three emission episodes of GRB160625B were dominated by distinct physics process. Simultaneously observations in gamma-rays and optical wavelengths support the hypothesis that this was the first observed transition from thermal to non-thermal radiation in a single GRB. Main results of the combined analysis are presented.
XIPE, the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer, is a mission dedicated to X-ray Astronomy. At the time of
writing XIPE is in a competitive phase A as fourth medium size mission of ESA (M4). It promises to reopen the
polarimetry window in high energy Astrophysics after more than 4 decades thanks to a detector that efficiently
exploits the photoelectric effect and to X-ray optics with large effective area. XIPE uniqueness is time-spectrally-spatially-
resolved X-ray polarimetry as a breakthrough in high energy astrophysics and fundamental physics.
Indeed the payload consists of three Gas Pixel Detectors at the focus of three X-ray optics with a total effective
area larger than one XMM mirror but with a low weight. The payload is compatible with the fairing of the Vega
launcher. XIPE is designed as an observatory for X-ray astronomers with 75 % of the time dedicated to a Guest
Observer competitive program and it is organized as a consortium across Europe with main contributions from
Italy, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden.
CIRCE is a near-infrared (1-2.5 micron) imager (including low-resolution spectroscopy and polarimetery) in operation as a visitor instrument on the Gran Telescopio Canarias 10.-4m tele scope. It was built largely by graduate students and postdocs, with help from the UF Astronomy engineering group, and is funded by the University of Florida and the U.S. National Science Foundation. CIRCE is helping to fill the gap in time between GTC first light and the arrival of EMIR, and will also provide the following scientific capabilities to compliment EMIR after its arrival: high-resolution imaging, narrowband imaging, high-time-resolution photometry, polarimetry, and low-resolution spectroscopy. There are already scientific results from CIRCE, some of which we will review. Additionally, we will go over the observing modes of CIRCE, including the two additional modes that were added during a service and upgrading run in March 2016.
The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) is a mission concept which was proposed to ESA as M3 and M4 candidate in the framework of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument and the uniquely large field of view of its wide field monitor, LOFT will be able to study the behaviour of matter in extreme conditions such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions close to black holes and neutron stars and the supra-nuclear densities in the interiors of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, >8m2 effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1 degree collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g., GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the current technical and programmatic status of the mission.
The calibration system for XIPE is aimed at providing a way to check and correct possible variations of performance of the Gas Pixel Detector during the three years of operation in orbit (plus two years of possible extended operation), while facilitating the observation of the celestial sources. This will be performed by using a filter wheel with a large heritage having a set of positions for the calibration and the observation systems. In particular, it will allow for correcting possible gain variation, for measuring the modulation factor using a polarized source, for removing non interesting bright sources in the field of view and for observing very bright celestial sources. The on-board calibration system is composed of three filter wheels, one for each detector and it is expected to operate for a small number of times during the year. Moreover, since it operates once at a time, within the observation mode, it allows for simultaneous calibration and acquisition from celestial sources on different detectors. In this paper we present the scope and the requirements of the on-board calibration system, its design, and a description of its possible use in space.
"Pi of the Sky" is a system of wide field of view robotic telescopes, which search for short timescale astrophysical phenomena, especially for prompt optical GRB emission. The system was designed for autonomous operation, monitoring a large fraction of the sky with 12m-13m range and time resolution of the order of 1 - 10 seconds. For now there are two working "Pi of the Sky" observatories: in San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) and near Mazagón in Southern Spain. In this paper we report on the status of the project, as well as recent observation of asteroid 2004BL86, which passed the Earth in late January 2015, DG CVn outburst in 2014, satellites observations and our future plans.
The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) was studied within ESA M3 Cosmic Vision framework and participated in the final downselection for a launch slot in 2022-2024. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument, LOFT will study the behaviour of matter under extreme conditions, such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions of accretion flows close to black holes and neutron stars, and the supranuclear densities in the interior of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, 10 m2 effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1° collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g. GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the status of the mission at the end of its Phase A study.
Starting March 2011 the “Pi of the Sky” project has two observatories in use: in northern Chile and in southern
Spain. Since then we are able to observe a parallax of objects, which pass close to the Earth. Simultaneous
observations from two sites are very important to us, because this allows us to reject false flash observations,
due to cosmic radiation, meteors, planes, etc. In this paper we present theoretical limitations of our parallax
observations. Moreover, first results are shown.
The Swift Gamma-ray Burst (GRB) observatory responds to GRB triggers with optical observations in ~ 100 s, butcannot respond faster than ~ 60 s. While some rapid-response ground-based telescopes have responded quickly, thenumber of sub-60 s detections remains small. In 2013 June, the Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory-Pathfinder is expected tobe launched on the Lomonosov spacecraft to investigate early optical GRB emission. Though possessing uniquecapability for optical rapid-response, this pathfinder mission is necessarily limited in sensitivity and event rate; here wediscuss the next generation of rapid-response space observatory instruments. We list science topics motivating ourinstruments, those that require rapid optical-IR GRB response, including: A survey of GRB rise shapes/times,measurements of optical bulk Lorentz factors, investigation of magnetic dominated (vs. non-magnetic) jet models,internal vs. external shock origin of prompt optical emission, the use of GRBs for cosmology, and dust evaporation inthe GRB environment. We also address the impacts of the characteristics of GRB observing on our instrument andobservatory design. We describe our instrument designs and choices for a next generation space observatory as a secondinstrument on a low-earth orbit spacecraft, with a 120 kg instrument mass budget. Restricted to relatively modest mass,power, and launch resources, we find that a coded mask X-ray camera with 1024 cm2 of detector area could rapidlylocate about 64 GRB triggers/year. Responding to the locations from the X-ray camera, a 30 cm aperture telescope witha beam-steering system for rapid (~ 1 s) response and a near-IR camera should detect ~ 29 GRB, given Swift GRBproperties. The additional optical camera would permit the measurement of a broadband optical-IR slope, allowingbetter characterization of the emission, and dynamic measurement of dust extinction at the source, for the first time.
Since the launch of the SWIFT, Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) science has been much progressed. Especially supporting
many measurements of GRB events and sharing them with other telescopes by the Gamma-ray Coordinate Network
(GCN) have resulted the richness of GRB events, however, only a few of GRB events have been measured within a
minute after the gamma ray signal. This lack of sub-minute data limits the study for the characteristics of the UV-optical
light curve of the short-hard type GRB and the fast-rising GRB. Therefore, we have developed the telescope named the
Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) Pathfinder, to take the sub-minute data for the early photons from GRB. The
UFFO Pathfinder has a coded-mask X-ray camera to search the GRB location by the UBAT trigger algorithm. To
determine the direction of GRB as soon as possible it requires the fast processing. We have ultimately implemented all
algorithms in field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) without microprocessor. Although FPGA, when compared with
microprocessor, is generally estimated to support the fast processing rather than the complex processing, we have
developed the implementation to overcome the disadvantage and to maximize the advantage. That is to measure the
location as accurate as possible and to determine the location within the sub-second timescale. In the particular case for a
accuracy of the X-ray trigger, it requires special information from the satellite based on the UFFO central control system.
We present the implementation of the UBAT trigger algorithm as well as the readout system of the UFFO Pathfinder.
The Ultra Fast Flash Observatory pathfinder (UFFO-p) is a telescope system designed for the detection of the prompt optical/UV photons from Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs), and it will be launched onboard the Lomonosov spacecraft in 2012. The UFFO-p consists of two instruments: the UFFO Burst Alert and Trigger telescope (UBAT) for the detection and location of GRBs, and the Slewing Mirror Telescope (SMT) for measurement of the UV/optical afterglow. The UBAT isa coded-mask aperture X-ray camera with a wide field of view (FOV) of 1.8 sr. The detector module consists of the YSO(Yttrium Oxyorthosilicate) scintillator crystal array, a grid of 36 multi-anode photomultipliers (MAPMTs), and analog and digital readout electronics. When the γ /X-ray photons hit the YSO scintillator crystal array, it produces UV photons by scintillation in proportion to the energy of the incident γ /X-ray photons. The UBAT detects X-ray source of GRB inthe 5 ~ 100 keV energy range, localizes the GRB within 10 arcmin, and sends the SMT this information as well as drift correction in real time. All the process is controlled by a Field Programmable Gates Arrays (FPGA) to reduce the processing time. We are in the final stages of the development and expect to deliver the instrument for the integration with the spacecraft. In what follows we present the design, fabrication and performance test of the UBAT.
The Slewing Mirror Telescope (SMT) is a key telescope of Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) space project to
explore the first sub-minute or sub-seconds early photons from the Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) afterglows. As the
realization of UFFO, 20kg of UFFO-Pathfinder (UFFO-P) is going to be on board the Russian Lomonosov satellite in November 2012 by Soyuz-2 rocket. Once the UFFO Burst Alert & Trigger Telescope (UBAT) detects the GRBs,
Slewing mirror (SM) will slew to bring new GRB into the SMT’s field of view rather than slewing the entire spacecraft. SMT can give a UV/Optical counterpart position rather moderated 4arcsec accuracy. However it will provide a important understanding of the GRB mechanism by measuring the sub-minute optical photons from GRBs. SMT can respond to the trigger over 35 degree x 35 degree wide field of view within 1 sec by using Slewing Mirror Stage (SMS). SMT is the reflecting telescope with 10cm Ritchey-Chretien type and 256 x 256 pixilated Intensified Charge-Coupled Device (ICCD). In this paper, we discuss the overall design of UFFO-P SMT instrument and payloads development status.
We describe the space project of Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) which will observe early optical photons from
gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) with a sub-second optical response, for the first time. The UFFO will probe the early optical
rise of GRBs, opening a completely new frontier in GRB and transient studies, using a fast response Slewing Mirror
Telescope (SMT) that redirects optical path to telescope instead of slewing of telescopes or spacecraft. In our small
UFFO-Pathfinder experiment, scheduled to launch aboard the Lomonosov satellite in 2012, we use a motorized mirror in
our Slewing Mirror Telescope instrument to achieve less than one second optical response after X-ray trigger. We
describe the science and the mission of the UFFO project, including a next version called UFFO-100. With our program
of ultra-fast optical response GRB observatories, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of GRB mechanisms, and
potentially open up the z<10 universe to study via GRB as point source emission probes.
In October 2010 Pi of the Sky set up a new system, consisting of 4 cameras installed on a new mount, in El
Arenosillo, in southern Spain. It was followed by moving the prototype system from Las Campanas Observatory
(central Chile) to San Pedro de Atacama (northern Chile) in March 2011. In this paper our new sites, some
details about observational conditions and first results in both observatories are described.
We discuss our experiences operating a heterogeneous global network of autonomous observatories. The observatories
are presently situated on four continents, with a fifth expected during the summer of 2010. The network
nodes are small to intermediate diameter telescopes (<= 150 cm) owned by different institutions but running the
same observatory control software. We report on the experience gained during construction, commissioning and
operation of the observatories, as well as future plans. Problems encountered in the construction and operation
of the nodes are summarised. Operational statistics as well as scientific results from the observatories are also
OCTOCAM is a multi-channel imager and spectrograph that has been proposed for the 10.4m GTC telescope. It will use
dichroics to split the incoming light to produce simultaneous observations in 8 different bands, ranging from the
ultraviolet to the near-infrared. The imaging mode will have a field of view of 2' x 2' in u, g, r, i, z, J, H and KS bands,
whereas the long-slit spectroscopic mode will cover the complete range from 4,000 to 23,000 A with a resolution of 700
- 1,000 (depending on the arm and slit width). An additional mode, using an image slicer, will deliver a spectral
resolution of over 3,000. As a further feature, it will use state of the art detectors to reach high readout speeds of the
order of tens of milliseconds. In this way, OCTOCAM will be occupying a region of the time resolution - spectral
resolution - spectral coverage diagram that is not covered by a single instrument in any other observatory, with an
Remote Telescope System 2nd version (RTS2) is an open source project aimed at developing a software environment
to control a fully robotic observatory. RTS2 consists of various components, which communicate via
an ASCII based protocol. As the protocol was from the beginning designed as an observatory control system,
it provides some unique features, which are hard to find in the other communication systems. These features
include advanced synchronisation mechanisms and strategies for setting variables. This presentation describes
the protocol and its unique features. It also assesses protocol performance, and provides examples how the RTS2
library can be used to quickly build an observatory control system.
BIRCAM is a near-infrared (0.8-2.5um) cryogenic camera based on a 1Kx1K HgCdTe array. It was designed for - and
is now mounted at - one of the Nasmyth foci of the fast-slewing 0.6 m BOOTES-IR telescope at the Sierra Nevada
Observatory (OSN) in Spain. The primary science mission is prompt Gamma Ray-Burst afterglow research, with an
implied demand for extremely time-efficient operation. We describe the challenges of installing a heavy camera on a
small high-speed telescope, of integrating the dithering mechanism, the filterwheel, and the array itself into a high-efficiency
instrument, the design of the software to meet the requirements.
We present a novel design of an all-sky 4096×4096 pixels camera devoted to continuous observations of the sky.
A prototype camera is running at the BOOTES-1 astronomical station in Huelva (Spain) since December 2002
and a second one is working at the BOOTES-2 station in Málaga (Spain) since July 2004. Scientific applications
are the search for simultaneous optical emission associated to gamma-ray bursts, study of meteor showers, and
determination of possible areas for meteorite recovery from the reconstruction of fireball trajectories. This last
application requires that at least two such devices for simultaneously recording the sky at distance of the order
of ~ 100 km. Fifteen GRB error boxes (13 for long/soft events and 2 for short/hard GRBs) have been imaged
simultaneously to the gamma-ray emission, but no optical emission has been detected. Bright fireballs have been
also recorded, allowing the determination of trajectories, as in the case of the fireball of 30 July 2005. This device
is a very promising instrument for continuous recording of the night sky with moderate angular resolution and
limiting magnitude (up to R ~ 10).
"BOOTES-IR" is the extension of the BOOTES experiment, which has been operating in Southern Spain since
1998, to the near-infrared (nIR). The goal is to follow up the early stage of the gamma ray burst (GRB)
afterglow emission in the nIR, as BOOTES does already at optical wavelengths. The scientific case that drives
the BOOTES-IR performance is the study of GRBs with the support of spacecraft like HETE-2, INTEGRAL and
SWIFT (and GLAST in the future). Given that the afterglow emission in both, the nIR and the optical, in the
instances immediately following a GRB, is extremely bright (reached V = 8.9 in one case), it should be possible
to detect this prompt emission at nIR wavelengths too. Combined observations by BOOTES-IR and BOOTES-1
and BOOTES-2 since 2006 can allow for real time identification of trustworthy candidates to have a ultra-high
redshift (z > 6). It is expected that, few minutes after a GRB, the nIR magnitudes be H ~ 10-15, hence very
high quality spectra can be obtained for objects as far as z = 10 by much larger ground-based telescopes. A
significant fraction of observing time will be available for other scientific projects of interest, objects relatively
bright and variable, like Solar System objects, brown dwarfs, variable stars, planetary nebulae, compact objects
in binary systems and blazars.
The INTEGRAL X-ray monitor, JEM-X, (together with the two gamma ray instruments, SPI and IBIS) provides simultaneous imaging with arcminute angular resolution in the 3-35 keV band. The good angular resolution and low energy response of JEM-X plays an important role in the detection and identification of gamma ray sources as well as in the analysis and scientific interpretation of the combined X-ray and gamma ray data. JEM-X is a coded aperture X-ray telescope consisting of two identical detectors. Each detector has a sensitive area of 500 cm2, and views the sky through its own coded aperture mask. The coded masks are located 3.4 m above the detector windows. The detector field of view is constrained by X-ray collimators (6.6° FOV, FWHM).
JEM-X will extend the energy range of the gamma ray instruments on ESA's INTEGRAL mission (SPI, IBIS) to include the x-ray band. JEM-X will provide images with arcminute angular resolution in the 2 - 60 keV band. The baseline photon detection system consists of two identical, high pressure, imaging microstrip gas chambers, each with a collecting area of 500 cm2. They view the sky through a coded aperture mask (0.5 mm tungsten) at a separation of 3.4 m. The two detector boxes are formed from 2 mm thick stainless steel plate and are filled with 5 bar Xe. The field of view is defined by the collimator mounted on top of the detector. Each collimator consists of an array of bonded square tubes of Mo. The internal surface of these tubes is covered by a graded shield. The collimator provide also the support for the detector windows which are made out of 250 micrometer thick beryllium foils. The detector sensor elements consists of microstrip plates shaped as regular octagons with a diameter of 292 mm. The basic microstrip pattern is similar to the one chosen for the HEPC/LEPC detector system on SRG. The detector position resolution will be sufficient to ensure an angular resolution for JEM-X of better than 3 arcmin throughout the 2 - 60 keV band.