Abstract Details

Title: The Liverpool Telescope

Authors: R. J. Smith

Institute/Affiliation: Liverpool Telescope

Abstract Type: talk

Abstract Information:

The Liverpool Telescope is a fully robotic 2m optical telescope, operated
on La Palma by Liverpool John Moores University (UK). The observatory runs
autonomously without direct human control either on site
or remotely and is distinct from the great majority or other robotic
observatories in not being focussed primarily on a single science
project. It operates as a common-user facility, time allocated by an open, peer-review
process and conducting a variety of optical and IR imaging, spectroscopic
and polarimetric programs.

The telescope itself is optically a conventional 2-meter Ritchey-Chretien
design but many aspects of the site infrastructure were designed
specifically to support robust and reliable unsupervised operations. I
will describe both the existing instrument suite and the ongoing development
plan to increase the diversity of observing modes specifically
tailored to time domain astrophysics.

Aside from the telescope hardware, the other aspect of robotic operations is
the mechanisms whereby users interact with the telescope and
its automated scheduler. I will focus on recent changes we have made in order to
try and reduce the sense of dislocation some observers may feel when they are
never personally involved in actual data collection. Observation requests are
no longer vetted by a member of the support staff before execution so robust
protection against maintenance staff or equipment injury is of particular importance.

One of the original goals of the Liverpool Telescope project when it was founded
was to act as a testbed and demonstrator for the concept of a large, common-user
robotic observatory. Observing routinely since 2004, this it has done. Making
the most of the flexibility afforded by fully robotic operations, we are
particularly keen to collaborate with both observers and other observatories
to develop observing modes to enable new science.