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An Observation Portal for the PANOPTES Automated Telescope Network

Presentation #546.02 in the session “Exoplanets 2”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
An Observation Portal for the PANOPTES Automated Telescope Network

Project PANOPTES (Panoptic Astronomical Networked Observatories for a Public Transiting Exoplanets Survey; is a citizen science project, with the aim of building a global network of low-cost robotic telescopes to detect transiting exoplanets. PANOPTES units are built and operated by volunteers, including professional scientists and amateur astronomers. Until now, each unit has functioned independently with operators remotely connecting to their individual PANOPTES units and manually updating them with targets of interest. This work aims to streamline the approach to scheduling and managing observations by developing a cloud-based observation web portal. We use the Las Cumbres Observatory’s Target and Observation Manager Toolkit running on the Django web framework to build our portal for its ease-of-use and customizability. Pre-built features include a target selection interface and a versatile database. Submitted observations are stored on a Cloud SQL database backend. We have developed a Python script to retrieve observations from the portal that can be called by specified units. Using the script, we have successfully retrieved observations on a local machine and showed that PANOPTES units can be programmed to call the script via an onboard computer and automatically updated with the latest targets of interest. When completed, this portal will allow operators to select targets via an integrated catalog search, submit observations to different PANOPTES units, and receive email alerts for completed observations. Future work will include coordinating long-term observations among different units and creating a voter-based system on social media for selecting observation targets.

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