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Telescope Control and Robotics

Telescope Control and Robotics focuses on the development of autonomous telescopes and robotic observatories through innovative software solutions. Additionally, we provides special-purpose hardware for telescope control beyond the standard equipment.

The AIP was one of the first institutes to build a truly robotic observatory, the STELLA robotic observatory on Tenerife. There, we operate an imaging and a spectroscopic 1.2-meter telescope, in fully unattended mode. Both telescopes run on a common software platform, the STELLA Control System. It provides an XML-based meta-language that allows any telescope adequately equipped to be operated in a fully autonomous manner.

This section was also responsible for building six Acquisition, Guiding & Wavefront-sensing (AGW) units for theLBT (on-axis parts were built by Arcetri Observatory INAF). These units provide real-time information on the dynamic state of the atmosphere, in turn allowing the Adaptive Optics system to compensate for the telescope’s own optical defects. This successful project brought us into leading a sub-project for the ARGOS Laser system for the LBT.


Some of the software packages the group has developed are in open-source domain. Click here to get to our software tools page.

Other projects include:

  • For PEPSI, together with the high-resolution spectroscopy group we built SDI, the solar disc integration telescopes and the PFUs, the permanent fiber units.
  • Automating the VATT for feeding VATT-light into PEPSI.
  • RoboTel: A smaller STELLA clone at the Campus Babelsberg
  • APT7 (Amadeus): An automated photoelectric telescope operated at Fairborn observatory, Az, USA.
  • ICE-T: Originally intended as a replacement for the canceled Eddington ESA-mission, to be brought to Dome-C, Antarctica. Discontinued due to unclear access situation on Dome-C.

Contact: Dr. Thomas Granzer, +49 331 7499 350,