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Project PANOPTES: a citizen-scientist exoplanet transit survey using consumer digital cameras
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 23:53 authored by Wilfred Gee
Project PANOPTES is aimed at establishing a collaboration between professional astronomers, citizen scientists, and schools in order to discover a large number of exoplanets using the transit technique. An imaging unit based on consumer digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras has been designed to run automatically every night, covering large parts of the sky looking for exoplanet transits. At a cost of $5000 USD, the units are a low-cost and efficient system for wide field astronomical imaging, offering approximately two orders of magnitude better étendue per unit of cost than professional wide-field surveys. Critical to the success of the project, a robust and flexible software control system was developed, as discussed in this work. The properties and capabilities of the DSLR camera as an imaging device are also explored, along with a demonstration of the algorithm required for successful processing and detection. Both science and outreach, our vision is to have dozens of units built by schools and citizen scientists in the next few years, helping make this project the most productive exoplanet discovery machine in the world.