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Over the next 12 months, we will be transforming our global telescope network, inline with our plans to have continuous night sky coverage by the end of 2012.
We will be enhancing our current 2m network (which consists of Faulkes Telescope North and South) and making more night sky time available for science and education.
We have a collection of 24 standard Meade OTA telescopes. These have all been tested and the 12 with the best quality optics will be installed on custom built C-ring equatorial mount (the 2m class have an Alt-Az mount which makes it very difficult for them track objects that pass directly overhead). They will be installed in Aqawan enclosures in pairs, except at Haleakala and Siding Spring, where they will be installed inside the clam-shell enclosures which house the 2m telescopes.
The sites we are considering, and their status, are as follows:
Each of these sites will have 2 x 0.4m telescopes installed. * = possible expansion of 2 extra 0.4m
There will also be a telescope installed in Santa Barbara and Liverpool for testing out the new scheduling and control software.
During this year there will be a total of 6 telescopes installed across 4 sites. Two will be installed in each of the Faulkes Telescopes, 1 will go to Liverpool and another will go to Cerro Tololo.
This will be the prototype for our next generation network, meaning that we will not be able to offer full access to these telescopes initially. We hope that the control software will be available for use on this network in the last quarter of the year.
This will primarily consist of the current 2m telescopes and the addition of 1m telescopes. These 1m scopes will be installed in conventional dome enclosures (unlike the 2m and 0.4m parts of the network). We aim to install at least 2 of these domes per site, with the possibility of adding 3 more to the best sites.
We hope to have the first 1m ready for shipment to Cerro Tololo by the end of 2009.
The 2m class has been substantially upgraded throughout the first part of this year, and we have already seen many improvements in the quality and reliability of the data.
Very soon there will be spectral cameras, full autoguiding (for very long exposures), and the Lambert calibrator installed at the telescopes.
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