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Project PANOPTES — A network of automated robotic telescopes built by citizen scientists to detect transiting exoplanets.

Published onJun 01, 2020
Project PANOPTES — A network of automated robotic telescopes built by citizen scientists to detect transiting exoplanets.

PANOPTES (Panoptic Astronomical Networked Observatories for a Public Transiting Exoplanets Survey) is a network of automated robotic telescopes that works on a survey mode of the night sky to detect transiting exoplanets. PANOPTES units are built by citizen scientists ranging from school students to amateur astronomers, from different countries across the globe. Once a unit is built and deployed successfully, the automated pipeline begins to image the night sky based on a preloaded target list. The design also provides the unit owner with the ability to override the target list to observe any other target of interest. The data processing pipeline stores the raw data and processes data products to generate a light curve for each of the sources observed in a field. Light curves from different units in the network will be then combined to improve sensitivity. While the focus of Project PANOPTES is to find transiting exoplanets, the units can also be useful in observing variable stars, comets, or for wide-field astrophotography. Being a multifaceted project in terms of requiring a wide range of skillsets, such as building hardware, software to control the unit, data analysis, follow up science study and as an educational tool for schools, the project benefits from having diverse community participation. The PANOPTES units are designed to be low-cost, easy to build with a clear set of instructions and constructed with readily available off-the-shelf hardware. There are currently 18 units in various stages of deployment across the world, with at least four more units being planned for construction. For those interested in data analysis and the data products, all data will be available on our data explorer along with notebook tutorials on how to access and analyse the data. In this presentation, we will give you an overview of the project and how you can also play a role in finding new transiting exoplanets.

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