Celestial Grid is an all-inclusive observatory system automating the capture, retrieval, reduction, and long-term archival of astronomical data (fits images.) Celestial Grid will automate all components related to the observatory. Although Celestial Grid will be developed for use on the Remote Observatory for Variable Object Research (ROVOR) and the Bright All-sky Survey (BASS), the system is modular and will be able to control many different observatories. Several different types of imaging will be available through Celestial Grid, depending on the observatory:
- Manual Queued Imaging (MQI) - Manually create an observation task including a list of individual objects to image at specific exposures on particular filters. BIAS, DARK, and FLAT images are automatically imaged.
- Automated All-sky Imaging (AAI) - Automatically generate an all-sky observation task around the zenith each night. Images are then automatically compared to previous datasets to find transient objects. Confirmed transient objects are sent to IAI imaging for immediate follow up.
- Interrupt Automated Imaging (IAI) - As objects of opportunity (GRBs, Supernovae, or flaring Blazars) are found through AAI or external feeds, MQI imaging is temporarily interrupted for real-time follow up imaging.
In order to maintain platform portability, Celestial Grid is almost exclusively developed in Sun Microsystems Java. Observation data is stored within a MySQL database. The software is distributed and packaged as a JAR file. The graphical user interface heavily relies upon the Java Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT) and SWING. The source code is thoroughly documented through Javadoc.
Primary to Celestial Grid is automated imaging, categorization, and archival of large quantities of image data. Essential to classifying and archiving images is the Celestial Grid Database. Celestial Grid will automatically build a predefined grid of the entire celestial sphere based upon a specified field of view (80% the size of the telescope's field of view.) All mosaic imaging routines created for AAI will be built upon this predefined Celestial Grid Database. When new objects are added to an MQI routine, Celestial Grid will search this predefined grid and find the closest element to the specified object. This means that an entered Right Ascension and Declination value will be slightly shifted to match the predefined grid. This forces any possible coordinate value to automatically line up with the Celestial Grid Database. All subsequent files are easily stored according the predefined Celestial Grid Database.
The system is primarily built around the Celestial Grid Server control system, with clients installed at observatory locations. Communication between the Central Control System and the Observatory Systems is managed through the Celestial Grid Protocol (an interface over top a TCP connection.)
Celestial Grid development is expected to be finished Summer, 2010. Inquiries into Celestial Grid.