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ING web news release
28 June, 2018

New Telescope Control System at the WHT

The ING has been working on equipping the William Herschel Telescope with new, digital electronics to replace the telescope's original analog electronics. After deployment and successful commissioning, the WHT resumed routine science observations on Friday, 22nd June, using the new electronic components as well as several updated software packages.

This upgrade will facilitate the integration of the new WEAVE hardware, and will ensure the telescope can be maintained through the WEAVE survey years. The project was finished on time and slightly under budget.

By design, the performance under the new telescope control system is identical to that under the old system, and indeed users may not notice that anything has changed - only the old blue telescope console will be missed. But visiting astronomers will be asked to keep an eye out and report any issues they find with the new system.

The modernisation of the WHT control system will continue in the coming years with the porting of the high-level software, written in VMS-Fortran and running on Alpha workstations, to a modern language under Linux. We will keep our communities informed of these developments.

The new telescope control system (TCS) had its night baptism on Friday 8th June, three days ahead of schedule. One of the first key tests, to verify everything was in place, was telescope pointing. In the photo above, Ian Skillen's excitement as Vega was acquired just 6 arcsec from the rotator center, before doing any form of calibrate. To the left, Thomás Turek, head of the ProjectSoft team who developed the new TCS, proudly watches over. The choice of first target was pertinent as Vega had been the first star the WHT pointed at when the telescope was first commissioned in July 1987.

The event was celebrated with delicious champaign from Czechia, courtesy of ProjectSoft, and an equally delicious cake, courtesy of Frank Gribbin.

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Contact:  (Public Relations Officer)
Last modified: 30 September 2018