The Infrared Imaging System (IRIS) is a 0.8m telescope and a 1024×1024 pixels camera (IRISCAM) with a HAWAII-1
detector array. IRIS is located at the Cerro Armazones Observatory in Chile that is operated by the Ruhr University
Bochum jointly with the Universidad Católica del Norte in Antofagasta. It will be used primarily to survey star-forming
regions for variability. Our goal is to discover young stellar objects undergoing accretion instabilities or rotational
modulation of star spots, eclipsing binaries, and variable reflection nebulae. The telescope and the infrared camera are
completed and first light was achieved in May of 2010. IRIS is currently being tested and characterized, before the longterm
monitoring project will commence.
The Infrared Imaging System (IRIS) is a 0.8 m telescope equipped with a 1024×1024 pixels near-infrared camera using
a HAWAII-1 detector array. IRIS will be located at the Cerro Armazones Observatory in Chile that is operated by the
Ruhr University Bochum jointly with the Universidad Catolica del Norte in Antofagasta. The system is specifically
designed to survey star forming regions and to search for deeply embedded variable young stars.
We will present aspects of the installation, commissioning, software development, and early operation of several new
robotic telescopes: 1) the 1.2-m MONET/South telescope at Sutherland/ZA, the second Halfmann telescope for the
MONET telescope network (the other telescope has been in operation at McDonald Observatory in Texas since early
2006); 2) a siderostat for a 0.5-m vacuum tower telescope for the new physics building of the Georg-August-Universitat
Göttingen; and 3) new developments for smaller (down to 0.5m) aperture telescopes. Special emphasis will be given to
drive technology: using torque motors we adjust maximum slewing speeds of 10°/sec as standard. Although sufficient
for most projects we are investigating even faster slewing speeds.
The first of two 1.2m MONET robotic telescopes became operational at McDonald Observatory in Texas in spring 2006, the second one will be erected at the South African Astronomical Observatory's Sutherland Station. About 60% of the observing time is dedicated to scientific use by the consortium (Univ. Göttingen, McDonald Obs. and the South African Astron. Obs.) and 40% is for public and school outreach. The alt-az-mounted f/7 RC imaging telescopes are optimized for fast operations, with slewing speeds up to 10°/sec in all axes, making them some of the fastest of their class in the world. The unusual clam-shell enclosures provide the telescopes with nearly unobstructed views of the sky. The new observatory control system fully utilizes the hardware capabilities and permits local, remote, and robotic operations and scheduling, including the monitoring of the weather, electric power, the building, current seeing, all software processes, and the archiving of new data.
In the last few years the ubiquitous availability of high bandwidth networks has changed the way both robotic and non-robotic telescopes operate, with single isolated telescopes being integrated into expanding "smart" telescope networks that can span continents and respond to transient events in seconds. The Heterogeneous Telescope Networks (HTN)* Consortium represents a number of major research groups in the field of robotic telescopes, and together we are proposing a standards based approach to providing interoperability between the existing proprietary telescope networks. We further propose standards for interoperability, and integration with, the emerging Virtual Observatory.
We present the results of the first interoperability meeting held last year and discuss the protocol and transport standards agreed at the meeting, which deals with the complex issue of how to optimally schedule observations on geographically distributed resources. We discuss a free market approach to this scheduling problem, which must initially be based on ad-hoc agreements between the participants in the network, but which may eventually expand into a electronic market for the exchange of telescope time.