The AOM, a new tool to coordinate a telescope network

The incorporation of distinct telescopes into larger coordinated networks greatly enhances discovery and follow-up capacity and will likely play a key role in multi-messenger astronomical studies in the coming decade. There are, however, challenges that remain in scaling and deploying such networks; most notably, organizing and scheduling.

A Chinese-French joint team from Space Variable Object Monitor (SVOM) mission developed an automatic observation management system (AOM) to incorporate the individual facilities with different telescope sizes, photometry parameters, and control techniques into a well-organized network. This study was published in Astronomical Society of the Pacific on June 30.

The first observation network adopted the AOM is the Ground-based Wide-Angle Cameras Network (GWAC-N), a network of robotic multiple types, optical telescopes under the framework of SVOM mission. The GWAC-N is currently located at Xinglong Observatory of National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC). It comprises two wide FoV GWAC telescopes, two 60cm telescopes (GWAC-F60A/B) and one 30cm telescope (GWAC-F30).

Via the AOM, the GWAC-N is obtained better sky coverage and detection performance that enables multiple tasks, including large-sample surveys, the follow-up observation of Gamma-Ray Bursts and Gravitational Waves, and the detection of optical transients, variable and periodic objects, and moving objects, etc.

Dr. HAN Xuhui from NAOC, the first author of the study, introduces that the AOM can perform complex observations with ten observation modes and 175 strategies. The AOM is also working with a high duty cycle and stable behavior.It schedules an average of 1500 targets and produced 600 observation plans per clear night (in 2020 December).

According to a simulation, via the AOM, a ten-telescope network can handle the working load of 100,000 targets in eight seconds, which is at LSST levels of alerts. This result ensures that the AOM can be adapted to the largest and busiest world-wide, general purposed, telescope networks.

In the next two years, the complete GWAC-N will be installed at two observatories. The number of telescopes in the GWAC-N will be extended to nine GWAC-A telescopes and five 60 cm class telescopes. More external telescopes are also foreseen to join the network. The AOM will fully support the operations of the GWAC-N and greatly enlarge the scientific return of the GWAC-N. With its modular design, the AOM is also scientifically and technically viable for other general-purpose telescope networks.

This paper can be accessed at


Figure: The telescopes of the GWAC-A, the GWAC-F60A/B and the GWAC- F30. (Image by HAN Xuhui)