Title: Operating a wide-area high-availability collaborative remote observing system for classically-scheduled observations at the W. M. Keck Observatory
Authors: Robert I. Kibrick (1), Gregory D. Wirth (2), Steven L. Allen (1), William T. S. Deich (1), Robert W. Goodrich (2), James E. Lyke (2); Lick:1 Keck:2
Institute/Affiliation: UCO Lick Observatory
Abstract Type: talk
For over a decade, the W. M. Keck Observatory\'s two 10-meter telescopes have been operated remotely from its Waimea headquarters. Over the last 9 years, WMKO remote observing has expanded to allow observing teams at dedicated sites located across California to observe via the Internet either in collaboration with colleagues in Waimea or entirely from California; in 2010, this capability was extended to include Yale University in Connecticut and Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. A semi-automated system enables WMKO and the partner institutions to efficiently manage the scheduling of these remote observing facilities.
All Keck facility science instruments are currently supported. Observers distributed between as many as four sites can collaborate in the interactive operation of each instrument by means of shared VNC desktops and multipoint video and/or telephone conferencing. Automated routers at primary remote observing sites ensure continued connectivity during Internet outages.
Each Keck remote observing facility is similarly equipped so observers have the same user environment and operate the instrument the same way. This architecture provides observers the flexibility to conduct observations from the location best suited to their needs and to adapt to last-minute changes. It also enhances the ability of off-site technical staff to provide remote support.