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SKYNET is a distributed network of robotic telescopes operated by students, faculty, and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The network began operation in January 2006 with the opening of the six PROMPT telescopes in Chile. Since then, several more telescopes in the U.S. and Europe have been integrated into the network. We are ramping up to integrate many new telescopes around the world throughout 2011 and 2012.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most powerful explosions the Universe has seen since the Big Bang. They occur approximately once per day and are brief, but intense, flashes of gamma radiation. They come from all different directions of the sky and last from a few milliseconds to a few hundred seconds. The primary mission of the robotic array is to obtain early time data of these transient phenomena in multiple bands.
While the array is not imaging GRB afterglows, individual telescopes perform scheduled observations of targets of scientifc interest for researchers around the globe. Observers can track their observations through the automated system and ultimately retrieve their data directly from the world wide web.
A large fraction of PROMPT's observing time is dedicated to outreach. High schools and universities across the state of North Carolina have used SKYNET to teach astronomy for several years, and partner institutions across the U.S. are now using Skynet to enhance their curriculum. We also have programs that allow members of the general public to use Skynet's telescopes.
If you have any questions about Skynet, would like to learn how to gain access to the
telescopes, or would like more information on adding your telescope to the
network, please contact us: