eSTAR project

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The eSTAR project is a multi-agent system that aims to implement a true heterogeneous network of robotic telescopes for automated observing. The project is a joint collaboration between the Astrophysics Group of the University of Exeter and the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University.

In 2006 work began on an autonomous software agent for observations of variable stars. This agent implements the optimal sampling technique of Saunders et al. (2006) and the prototype was successfully tested on the RoboNet network of telescopes which includes: the Liverpool Telescope, the Faulkes Telescope North and the Faulkes Telescope South.

eSTAR is affiliated with the RoboNet Consortium and the global Heterogeneous Telescope Networks Consortium.

As of 2007 eSTAR is "live" supporting two real-time observing projects. Automated follow-up observations of gamma ray bursts are performed using the 3.8m UKIRT telescope situated in Hawai'i, making this telescope the largest in the world[clarification needed], with an automated response system for tracking such events.

eSTAR is also involved in the search for extra-solar planets by placing observations on the RoboNet system of telescopes on behalf of the PLANET collaboration. The technique of gravitational microlensing is used to monitor large numbers of stars in the galactic bulge looking for the tell-tale signature of cool planets orbiting those stars.[clarification needed]

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