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PLATO control and robotics Daniel M. Luong-Van*

Summary: PLATO control and robotics
Daniel M. Luong-Van*
, Michael C.B. Ashley, Jon R. Everett, Jon S. Lawrence,
John W.V. Storey
School of Physics, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia
PLATO, the `PLATeau Observatory', is a robotic Antarctic observatory developed by UNSW for deployment to
Dome A, the highest point on the Antarctic plateau. PLATO is designed to run autonomously for up to a year, providing
power, communications and thermal management for a suite of scientific and site-testing instruments. To achieve this
degree of autonomy, multiple-redundant Linux-based `supervisor' computers, each with their own watchdog-timer and
Iridium satellite-modem, communicate with each other and with the outside world. The active supervisor computer
monitors and controls the PLATO power distribution, thermal and engine management subsystems via a CAN (Control
Area Network) bus. High-bandwidth communication between the instruments and the supervisor computers is via a
100 Mbps Local Area Network. Data is stored in cold-verified flash memory. The PLATO computers monitor up to 140
analog channels and distribute electrical power and heating to 96 current-monitored channels via an intelligent load-
shedding algorithm.
Keywords: Astronomy, Astronomical observatory, Site testing, Automation, Robotics, Control
PLATO is the third-generation robotic observatory developed by the University of New South Wales for its Antarctic
astronomy research program. The previous generations were the AASTO1


Source: Ashley, Michael C. B. - School of Physics, University of New South Wales


Collections: Physics