What is Project PANOPTES?

PANOPTES (Panoptic Astronomical Networked OPtical observatory for Transiting Exoplanets Survey) is a citizen science project which aims to build a world wide network of low cost, robotic telescopes which are used to detect transiting exoplanets.

Why are there two cameras? Can it see in 3D?

PANOPTES does not see in 3D. While the two cameras are reminiscent of our two eyes which give us depth perception, PANOPTES has two cameras in order to gather more data. By mounting two cameras, we double the amount of data that a single PANOPTES unit can collect while only increasing the cost by a small fraction. We will be looking at designing versions of PANOPTES units which can hold four or even more cameras in the future.

Why would educators be interested in participating?

Project PANOPTES provides students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) a unique opportunity to participate in a global citizen science project. Using relatively inexpensive components, students and citizen scientists can build and operate an autonomous observatory that will identifying exoplanet candidates for further investigation. PANOPTES presents participants with an opportunity to become involved at all levels within an exoplanet discovery project.

How much technical knowledge is needed to build PANOPTES?

PANOPTES has been designed to be built by people with moderate technical skills or with a mentor that can help teach those skills. You should try to build units as a team with classmates / friends.

What skills are needed to build a PANOPTES unit?

PANOPTES units are designed to be easy to assemble. If you know how to operate a drill and a screwdriver, you can probably assemble a PANOPTES unit. Check out our step-by-step instructions.

How long does it take to build a PANOPTES unit?

Building your first PANOPTES unit will probably take a few days. Check our instructions to make sure you have all the parts, and to get a good idea of what the steps are.

However, many schools will want ot build a PANOPTES unit over the course of a few weeks or an entire semester. PANOPTES should be viewed as an educational tool and so taking time to build a unit, while also doing lesson plans about what is being done, would be an invaluable experience for the students.

What kind of volunteers does Project PANOPTES need?

In this golden age of astronomy, science discoveries are no longer limited to those with advanced astronomy degrees; Project PANOPTES allows learners of all ages and backgrounds to join to search to discover new exoplanets! If you have skills or interest in electronics, data [science or management] optics, software [for hardware, front stack, middleware, back end] or education, you can help!

Do I need to be an astronomer to volunteer?

No. Anyone with moderate technical skills can build an PANOPTES unit, but there are also opportunities to participate which do not involve building a unit: working on software, helping with documentation, mentoring build groups, and assisting with data reduction are some examples of other ways to participate.

I live in the city. Is it worth building a PANOPTES unit with all of the light pollution?

From a science perspective, an individual unit in a city is limited, but when that unit is networked with all the other units, the data becomes useful. However, from an educational perspective, an individual unit in a city is extremely powerful because it allows students with limited opportunity to become directly involved in cutting-edge science.