Deep Sky Program
The Deep Sky Program is a project that seeks to accurately chart the positions and nature of the stars and systems lying within the Empty Stars, primarily those sectors lying immediately to coreward and trailing of the Distant Fringe.
- It is occasionally called the "V'n'V Program"
- It is a program hosted by the University of Tal Varisa.
- It collaborates closely with the Spinward Survey and the University of Selasia
- See also DSP Listing.
The Faculty of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Tal Varisa oversees the Deep Sky Program.
The Faculty has three large astronomy departments:
- The Institute of Astrophysics, concentrating on theoretical astrophysics and optical, infrared and X-ray observations.
- The Saito Center for Astronomy, concentrating on radio and submillimetre observations and instrumentation, observational cosmology and all aspects of astronomical interferometry.
- The Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, including the Valeriya Egorov Institute of Mathematics and the Chamber of Theoretical Astrophysics and Cosmology.
The departments collaborate to run the Deep Sky Program (the DSP), a project that seeks to accurately map and catalog the Empty Stars. The DSP is in effect a fourth, and largely autonomous, department of the Faculty.
Centuries of continuous observation, the use of sophisticated and extremely sensitive instruments and sensors, the ability to take measurements and readings from a wide range of vastly separated observation points, and state of the art data processing have allowed extensive, reliable astrophysical data to be gathered.
- Radial Velocity: a star with a planetary system will move in complex patterns in response to the gravitational influence of its family of orbiting worlds - this is also known as doppler spectroscopy. The technique allows planetary masses, diameters and orbits to be plotted and calculated with a high degree of precision. The occurrence of planetoid belts and empty orbits can also be determined.
- Transit Photometry: the apparent luminosity of a star will dip when an orbiting planet passes between it and the observer. This yields details regarding the size of orbiting worlds. Analysis of the energy spectrum also yields data about the atmosphere and the hydrosphere of the worlds.
- Reflection/Emission Modulations: the energy emanating from a distant planetary body can be accurately measured and analyzed. It gives data about physical conditions on the planet, providing detailed insight into the atmosphere and the hydrosphere of the observed world.
- Gravitational Microlensing: an astronomical phenomenon that can be used to detect objects that range from the mass of a planet to the mass of a star, regardless of the energy they emit.
- Astrometry: a process that involves taking precise measurements of the positions and movements of stars and other celestial bodies.
Funding for the DSP originates from a variety of sources – the governments of both the Firstworlds and the High Senate make extremely substantial contributions, as do business interests and wealthy benefactors to the University. In addition it receives funding from investments, fund-raising drives, trust funds, and legacies. Those organisations that provide funding also frequently assign their own specialists and support personnel to the Program – there is often friction between academic staff and outside contractors, who have their own objectives and agendas. The Program is known to have significant military involvement.
Facilities and Equipment
The DSP has privileged access to all of the facilities and observatories in which the University of Tal Varisa has an interest. It also has access to some restricted military sites as well as a range of corporate and privately owned facilities. These include:
- Radio Observatories
- Microwave Observatories (including the Stanter Receiver Assembly)
- Neutrino Detectors
- Surface Observatories
- Space Observatories (including the Mengo Deep Space Optical Array)
- Cosmic Ray Observatories
- Gravity Wave Detectors
It also has access to advanced computer systems, high-tech equipment, dedicated surface sites such as private spaceports, and a variety of vehicles and starships. The Firstworlds Navy has placed a number of long-range scoutships at the DSP's disposal.
The Deep Sky Program has accurately detailed the locations of around 5600 separate star systems lying within 36 sectors of space.
- This data is published as the DSP Listing.
- V'n'V refers to Vilani and Voyagers - one of the underlying purposes of the program is to detect the presence or the approach of either of these mortal threats, or at least to chart the routes that they are most likely to follow.
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