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Paper: The GBT Dynamic Scheduling System: The Observers’ Perspective
Volume: 411, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XVIII
Page: 334
Authors: Braatz, J.; Balser, D.; Bignell, C.; Clark, M.; Harnett, J.; McCarty, M.; Marganian, P.; O’Neil, K.; Shelton, A.
Abstract: To make the most efficient use of telescope time, the NRAO is implementing a Dynamic Scheduling System (DSS) for the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The DSS aims to match observing projects to the weather and other observing conditions, without sacrificing observers’ interactive control of their experiments. To meet this goal, the DSS schedules people, not observing scripts. Each observer can then attend to the observation, control the telescope, and modify the observing program, if necessary, in real time. Observing under the DSS is often done remotely, by necessity. Every day, the DSS generates a new schedule for the 24-hour period beginning one day hence. Observers therefore must be prepared to run observations with 24 to 48 hours notice. Being available and ready to observe on short notice requires that observers adopt a new mindset, unlike their experiences with other telescopes. While it may be an inconvenience for some, the benefits of the DSS are substantial, the primary one being that astronomers are almost assured of observing in appropriate weather and getting high quality data. The DSS gives observers the opportunity to black out time ranges to avoid for scheduling, so the telescope schedule can fit around other demands. In addition to the scheduling algorithms, the DSS team has developed a set of software tools to help observers manage their projects, to notify observers of scheduling news, and to help observers anticipate when their projects will get scheduled. In this contribution we will report observers’ experiences from the first tests of the GBT DSS, which took place from June 1 to September 30, 2008.
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