PS1 is up and Running

PS1, the prototype for the four-telescope Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) that the IfA plans to build on Mauna Kea, is again up and running on Haleakala.

After several months of downtime to correct flaws in the flexures that support the secondary mirror, the telescope that uses the world’s largest digital camera is now taking up to 700 images per night. Since PS1 has returned to observing, more than 900 stationary transient detections have been recorded, including several hundred supernovae, and follow-up campaigns at other observatories are now underway.

In mid-February, the staff of the PS1 Science Consortium began a one-month demonstration project with the primary goal of providing a month’s worth of statistics on current PS1 science and operations performance under conditions approximating anticipated science surveying. The demonstration month also provides the opportunity to acquaint scientists from the consortium member institutions with procedures for using the data taken by PS1.

About three-quarters of the entire sky is visible from Hawai`i, and PS1 will image about one-sixth of that sky each night. It is taking images with five filters that range in color from green to the near infrared, so that it will image the entire observable sky in each filter about once a month. Revisiting the sky many times over during the four-year PS1 survey will enable PS1 to image objects that appear to be static with unparalleled sensitivity, and will also provide a time-lapse “movie” with which near-Earth asteroids can be discovered, since they appear to move more quickly than most other celestial objects.

In addition to those at the IfA, consortium members include scientists from the Max Planck Society institutes in Garching and Heidelberg, Germany, the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts, Las Cumbres Observatory in California, Durham University in England, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, and National Central University in Taiwan.

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