The more stringent antenna control and monitoring requirements of the Australia
Telescope Compact Array operating at high frequencies make it essential
to upgrade the telescope antenna control computers. The challenge with a
research instrument such as the Compact Array is to make a control system
which is both flexible and reliable in the face of changing requirements.
The MNRF contribution to the ATOMS project is in the form of funding for
two positions to help with the implementation of the antenna control computers.
Both these positions were filled in September 1997. A number of important
parts of the project have been completed, including the design of an antenna-independent
low-level interface and an easily-extended antenna control framework using
object-oriented techniques. A number of high-integrity software components
required for real-time interaction with the antenna hardware have also been
designed, and coding of these is progressing using the C++ language. Finally,
several observatory data management utilities have been completed using
the Java programming language.
It is expected that a prototype antenna control computer will be available
by mid-1999 and that production machines will be installed in the Australia
Telescope Compact Array antennas in early 2000.
The various locations of the ATNF make it especially challenging to develop
software that will work and that can be developed at any of the ATNF sites,
so another important ATOMS initiative is the planning and implementation
of a distributed online software development environment. This will enable
software development for the ATNF online systems that can support distributed
development across the ATNF sites.
The ATOMS project is accessible through the ATOMS
web pages. The Aims
of the ATOMS project and a Plan
for implementing those aims is available to give an overview of the project.