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Title: A telescope control and scheduling system for the Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer
Author: Dyer, Martin J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8506 3130
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2019
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The detection of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational-wave signal in August 2017 marked the start of a new era of multi-messenger astrophysics. An unprecedented number of telescopes around the world were involved in hunting for the source of the signal, and although more gravitational-wave signals have been since detected, no further electromagnetic counterparts have been found. In this thesis, I present my work to help build a telescope dedicated to the hunt for these elusive sources: the Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer (GOTO). I detail the creation of the GOTO Telescope Control System, G-TeCS, which includes the software required to control multiple wide-field telescopes on a single robotic mount. G-TeCS also includes software that enables the telescope to complete a sky survey and transient alert follow-up observations completely autonomously, whilst monitoring the weather conditions and automatically fixing any hardware issues that arise. I go on to describe the routines used to determine target priorities, as well as how the all-sky survey grid is defined, how gravitational-wave and other transient alerts are received and processed, and how the optimum follow-up strategies for these events were determined. The first GOTO telescope, situated on La Palma in the Canary Islands, saw first light in June 2017. I detail the work I carried out on the site to help commission the prototype, and how the control software was developed during the commissioning phase. I also analyse the GOTO CCD cameras and optics, building a complete theoretical model of the system to confirm the performance of the prototype. Finally, I describe the results of simulations I carried out predicting the future of the GOTO project, with multiple robotic telescopes on La Palma and in Australia, and how the G-TeCS software might be modified to operate these telescopes as a single, global observatory.
Supervisor: Dhillon, Vik ; Daw, Ed Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available