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e-Science Telescopes for Astronomical Research



The eSTAR (e-Science Telescopes for Astronomical Research) project led by Liverpool JMU and the University of Exeter has established a world lead in the application of new grid technologies and intelligent agents to create intelligent observing systems. We have melded databases, telescopes and intelligent agents into a seamless observing system. The agents request data, interpret the resulting observations using information from other databases and adapt their observing plans to maximise the scientific return. They can perform this taask so fast (seconds) that in many cases our approach allows genuinely new kinds of scientific programme to be carried out. As the only core programme e-Science demonstrator in Astronomy we produced a simple but powerful demonstration of the potential of these technologies. WIthin the demonstrator we developed a prototype intelligent agent to carry out a representative use case, combining live observations from a network of Meade telescopes and archival data from a number of databases to perform dwarf novae outburst followup . We participated in the ongoing standardization process to develop a common markup language for observation description, and deployed and tested standards compliant with communications middleware. The demonstration was a considerable success, attracting much interest both from the astronomical and wider e-Science communities, and has attracted further core funding to pursue the computer science aspects of the project as part of a large university and industry collaboration led by Imperial College (the Computational Markets programme). Additional funding was also attracted from the PPAR e-Science initiative to develop another prototype use case and deploy the system onto UKIRT and the JCMT. The aim is to obtain prompt spectroscopy of a ?-ray burst. On receiving the alert, imaging observations will be requested from UKIRT (by adding an observing block into the UKIRT observing queue). Once obtained, the data will be reduced in near real-time and cross-correlated with 2MASS to locate any large amplitude variables. If a SIMBAD query shows the star lies outside the its normal variability range, the agent will then place a request for a followup spectroscopic observations into the UKIRT observing queue, and possibly request data from other telescopes. Both these systems are far ahead of anything created by other groups, but are clearly experimental systems. This application seeks funding from PPARC to develop the telescope based grid applications to move e-STAR from a demonstrator to a real world system that would allow e-SCience to be carried out by UK astronomers. It will deliver a network of grid enabled telescopes at low cost based on existing hardware, and a toolkit allowing astronomers to exploit them without expert grid knowledge.

Maturity: Initial Research
Region: UK
Type: Pilot
Grant Value: £275,000.00
Start Date: 01/04/2003
End Date: 22/03/2008
Project Status: funded
Funding Agency: PPARC

Project Members
Dr Iain Steele

Collaborating Organisations
Liverpool John Moores University
University of Exeter

Component(s) Project Develops
This project is not associated with any components at present.

Application Area(s) associated with Project
Particle Physics & Astronomy


Last Updated: 22 Jun 12 11:02
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