SQT is a 1-m robotic telescope enclosed in a clam shell-type dome of 6 m in diameter and mounted on a platform located at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos at La Palma, Canary Islands. The design of the telescope is such that it permits fully unattended operation thanks to its robotic mode. This is made possible by a sophisticated suite of software and an array of environment sensors. SQT is equipped with a camera capable of delivering high-resolution and high-precision images. It has the ability of registering simultaneous images in two different colors thus greatly increasing its efficiency when compared with other telescopes of its kind.
The main goal of the SQT telescope is the exploration of exoplanetary systems. It will provide high-precision photometry of transiting exoplanets so that their main properties, such as its size and orbital characteristics, can be determined. SQT will work in parallel with the SuperWASP experiment, which is searching for planets with wide-angle imaging. The eight telescopes of SuperWASP cover a field of view some 2000 times larger than a conventional telescope but delivers relatively poor photometry. SQT will thoroughly observe select stars identified with SuperWASP to confirm the nature of their exoplanets and study their properties with great accuracy.
Aim of the our participation
The leading institutions behind the SQT are the University of Warwick (UK) and the Institute of Space Sciences, together with a number of participating institutions (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, John Moores University-Liverpool, Keele University, University of Leicester). The Institute of Space Sciences has committed itself to carrying out a number of different aspects of the project, involving both hardware and software. In particular, these aspects are: 1) The two-arm instrument including the optical and mechanical design and construction, and the provision of the infrared filter and camera. Such camera contains a state-of-the art CCD detector employing sophisticated deep-depletion technology that enhances its sensitivity to infrared light. 2) An autoguiding system in a closed-loop fashion that uses the images from the camera to correct for drifts in the tracking motion of the telescope. This is one of the key elements permitting the highest precision possible in the photometry. 3) The robotic control software suite that must guarantee the safe operation of the telescope in fully automatic and unattended manner. In this case, the technology employed has been developed by the IEEC and implemented already at the Observatori Astronòmic del Montsec (OAdM).
The facility completed full development and deployment at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma and was officially inaugurated in May 2017. Routine operations are expected to start very shortly.
Senior Institut members involved
, J. Colomé