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Observational Techniques, Telescopes, Instrumentation

Observational techniques & data reduction

The RTG research plan incorporates several novel observational techniques: planet detection using spectral separation, planet detection by using spectroastrometry or planetary systems studies via differential Fabry-Perot imaging. One item in the RTG research plan will be the full development of these techniques and the final assessment in the program context. This is favorably done in parallel with the application in research projects (rather than by computer simulations). Other programs (RV-follow up of transit candidates, transit searches in clusters) use established reduction and analysis techniques. Wherever possible, we will employ existing routines and code to avoid unnecessary duplication. The adopted routines will be critically reviewed, however, and adapted to the particular research problem. Planetary transit searches, including RV follow-up, are one of our main scientific themes, to be carried out with a small telescope network including our own facilities. The preparation, execution and exploitation of the observations must be driven by the scientific requirements and done in a coordinated fashion. The research plan further includes the development, improvement, and adaptation of the software for grid observing, and the data reduction routines for network transit photometry, (e.g. Difference Imaging Analysis pipelines), transit spectroscopy and spectral imaging, all based on real scientific data. Science data reduction will be developed for the individual projects. Many features will be shared amongst the different techniques. Commonalities will be identified and exploited.

Telescopes and Instrumentation

The installation and operation of two new 1.2 m robotic telescopes (MONET, HRT) will be a main activity of the observatories in the immediate future. Science verification will be performed after commissioning, and a science operations plan will be established for the remote-controlled and later the robotic phase. Scientific observations for the various phases will be derived from the RTG science programs by the participants. A coordinator will be nominated. Network observing will be an important element of future small telescope astronomy and the RTG. The infrastructure and science operations must be defined, set up and adapted to the science requirements. This be an opportunity for student exposure to science management. The competitiveness of small telescopes rests partially on the attached instrumentation. We plant to uphold and extend our instrumentation program with several projects carried out inside the framework of the RTG ( IR camera for imaging/photometry; differential image de-rotator for stellar PA measurements, IR spectroscopy). Instrumentation development will take place at the institutes, using the local telescopes as testbeds, with HRT's presently vacant Nasmyth focus 2 available as a final destination. Involvement in these program aspects will be particularly beneficial to students looking at technical/management careers.