Module for observations in polar regions - polar robotic telescope

Popescu Petre1, Negoita Teodor2, Adrian Bot3, Paraschiv Petre1, Nedelcu Alin1, Badescu Octavian1 Astronomical Institute of Romanian Academy 2 Romanian Polar Research Institute 3 National Institute of Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technology, Mass Spectrometry & Chromatography Department, Cluj -Napoca
1

The 3rd International Symposium

on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Introduction

The aim of this project is to achieve a robotic telescope adapted to polar environment activity. After performing the technological study containing the main parameters and attaining goals, a study of astroclimate was elaborated -using the already obtained data-base and in situ determination at Romanian-Australian scientific polar station Law-Racovita. The module is build following studies, projects and testing of materials and components in Romania. After performing the final test in Romania, the module is possible to be installed in situ by our scientific associates, after a preliminary training. Observational results are intended to be stored in data-bases, for analyzing and processing. The astro-geodetic observational programs are performed trough satellite communications.

The 3rd International Symposium

on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Objectives

Antarctica is a continent without pollution, where temperature and humidity favors astronomical observations. The astroclimate conditions there allow a high precision detection of images. Thus it is possible to:
• observe near-Earth celestial bodies; • improve the stellar reference system in the neighborhood of the extragalactic radio stars; • study the mutual phenomena of the bodies in the Solar System; • study stellar systems visible only from the Southern hemisphere. • study the vertical deviation by astro-geodetic methods;
The 3rd International Symposium on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Activities

Problems connected with the construction of a telescope capable to operate in the polar environment involves a great complexity of activities of scientific and technological research:
• assesment of astro-climate conditions; • logistic support for setting, installing and maintenance of the module; • the study of materials behaviour at very low temperatures; • the study of the optical systems and of the optical parameters stability in the polar environment;

The 3rd International Symposium

on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Expected results

The results of the researches related to the construction of mechanic systems intended to operate under extremely difficult conditions were communicated and disseminated in specialized technical-scientific media by scientific papers, conferences, workshops. The carrying out of astronomical-geodetic determinations in the Southern hemisphere allow the enlargement of the database which contains:
• • • local reference points of the extra-galactic radio-sources; positions, proper motions and rotation periods of the NEOs; mutual phenomena of the bodies in the solar system.

The conditions and the parameters required by such a goal can create important difficulties. We believe that from the point of view of research we encounter no major difficulties. The meteo conditions factor and by this we mean the astro-climatic conditions during the testing and then during the achievement of the results is the major risk which should be incurred by the working team. The materials and the technologies used can be greatly influenced by the environment conditions, there may be differences between the tests made at home and the real conditions in the working area. We do not exclude the possibility of contrary conclusions in some researches, which, however, cannot affect the general background of the problem, conclusions which will necessitate supplementary efforts and project modifications.
The 3rd International Symposium on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Scientific and technical aspects of the project

The autonomous module for Antarctic astronomical surveys – PROTEL - represents an automatic telescope, designed to work without human intervention in conditions of low temperature, imposed by polar environment. Astroclimate studies have indicated that the temperature is in the range of -220C; +20C, in area where the instrument is intended to be sited. That implies the use of special kinds of materials, optical components, electronic devices, and operating systems adapted to work in extreme cold. The complete lack of human participation imposes a completely automated, easy to use instrument.

The 3rd International Symposium

on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Data storage

The huge amount of data (stellar images, asteroids, comets, etc) imposes the existence of a raw data downloading module and a storage device. For security purposes, downloading module is located in a protected area inside of the research station. The broadcasting of scientifically data from downloading module is indented to be performed by means of a low power radio station. After finishing a complete acquisition data package, another observational program shall be loaded into the system memory, using the radio link with existing data storage. Accessing astronomical data in Romania, implies either an broadband INTERNET or regular mail.

The 3rd International Symposium

on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Monitoring and set up of the module

The monitoring of module behavior is performed from 2 locations: first location at 100 m away from the module and the second at Bucharest via satellite by means of satellite network. That can be accessed with a radio transmitting module at frequencies of 406.1 MHz, allowing data transmissions anywhere in the world at low costs, from anywhere in the world. These data will be low-volume and will transmit information about module status and environmental conditions, allowing a good monitoring of module behaviour and identifying possible malfunctions. All these devices will be installed inside the telescope mounting which will be also controlled by the command and control system. The module PROTEL shall be situated on a adequate metallic platform, anchored in soil rock through a set of custom screws. The need of electric power estimated at up to 1 KW, furnished by the polar station.
The 3rd International Symposium on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Law-Racovita Polar Station

The 3rd International Symposium

on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Participants

The project leader, Astronomical Institute of Romanian Academy, assure scientific management of project, optical testing and calibrations. IAAR manage a complete staff of scientists working in applied astronomy, and dispose the whole range of hardware and software dedicated to astronomy. In cooperation with partner National Institute of Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technology, Mass Spectrometry & Chromatography Department, will be ellaborated and tested specific software packages dedicated to automated observations taking, and data transmission toward storage device. In the same time, IAAR is authorised to perform first specific tests with PROTEL, in normal environment conditions. The partner National Institute of Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technology, Mass Spectrometry & Chromatography Department, will provide both the design and execution tasks of mechanical parts for the module, of electrical driving systems, automatic position control and will assembly and preliminary tests the module to check the fulfillment of performance requirements. The partner Romanian Polar Research Institute will provide logistic support for positioning of autonomous module PROTEL at the polar station, powering up the subsystems and running the preliminary observations, requested calibration. It will provide first astro-climate data, in order to establish a coherent astronomical program. It has skilled personal and international agreement required to fulfill these tasks.
The 3rd International Symposium on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Steps of the project
    

Scientific and technical study -9.11.2005 Astroclimate study – 15.10.2006 Project of the module – 15.05.2007 The execution of the module – 15.11.2007 Studies for the set-up of the module – 15.04.2008 Final results, conclusions – 15.07.2008

The 3rd International Symposium

on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2

Conclusion

We can identify some new elements in the design of the remote-control telescope:
• completely autonomous running module conceived as an specifically data grabbing robot; • running in extreme environment condition; • the maintenance by data flow of satellite communications.

The design of an complete automate mounting implies the use of specific subsystems, i.e.: motion control, positioning systems and image acquisition systems, interface devices and specific software.
The 3rd International Symposium on Polar Scientific Research,

Bucharest 27 June 2