Observing Blocks

Work on the web-based application that will allow observers to define and upload observing block descriptions for later execution is now moving fast forward, where the implementation of the database of optical elements was a fundamental requisite. Generating a valid observing block requires defining parameters at various levels: Observing Group, Observing Block (OB) & Observing Sequence. A Group is one or more OBs that must be executed in one single night. An OB is defined as one telescope pointing & target acquisition in a specific observing mode (imaging or spectroscopy), which consists of one or more Observing Sequences that describes the actual exposures.The navigation between the levels has been completed, and instrument specific content is currently being defined and implemented.

The above interface will allow complete definitions of observations with appropriate consistency checks. A resulting OB will correspond to a set of commands that is generated for execution, where this mostly will be just a few already existing sequencer scripts. Beyond simply running these resulting scripts our plans is to develop an interface to execute these scripts (the `Executor') to allow to both follow the step-by-step execution of the observations, and manage the execution by allowing to skip certain parts (e.g., when running the same OB on the same target the telescope pointing can be skipped), or let it pause or stop at a certain point. This is partly for debugging purposes, but this is mainly intended to make it easier to manage the observations if the weather changes or if there is a technical problem during the execution of the script where simple re-executing a complete OB would be very inefficient.

Thomas Augusteijn 2012-02-21