JMaCS is a software intended to facilitate, in soft realtime, the local or remote interactive and programmatic monitoring and control of some distributed target, sucha as an astronmical telescope or telescope network. It is derviced from experimental softaware written for a radar used for observing the Earth's ionosphere, and aims to bring to bear the remote polymorphism afforded by Java RMI (Remote Method Invocation). Teh core software does not provide all these facilities itself, but only a standard way to plug device interfaces into a third-party JMaCS implementation. Itis presented here, together with the JMaCS implementation developed in parallel and a demonstration target, as proof of concept.
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.