PLATO control and robotics

Daniel M. Luong-Van, Michael C B Ashley, Jon R. Everett, Jon S. Lawrence, John W V Storey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

11 Citations (Scopus)


PLATO, the 'PLATeau Observatory', is a robotic Antarctic observatory developed by UNSW for deployment to Dome A, the highest point on the Antarctic plateau. PLATO is designed to run autonomously for up to a year, providing power, communications and thermal management for a suite of scientific and site-testing instruments. To achieve this degree of autonomy, multiple-redundant Linux-based 'supervisor' computers, each with their own watchdog-timer and Iridium satellite-modem, communicate with each other and with the outside world. The active supervisor computer monitors and controls the PLATO power distribution, thermal and engine management subsystems via a CAN (Control Area Network) bus. High-bandwidth communication between the instruments and the supervisor computers is via a 100 Mbps Local Area Network. Data is stored in cold-verified flash memory. The PLATO computers monitor up to 140 analog channels and distribute electrical power and heating to 96 current-monitored channels via an intelligent loadshedding algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvanced Software and Control for Astronomy II
Place of PublicationBellingham, WA
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780819472298
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
EventAdvanced Software and Control for Astronomy II - Marseille
Duration: 26 Jun 200828 Jun 2008


ConferenceAdvanced Software and Control for Astronomy II


  • Astronomical observatory
  • Astronomy
  • Automation
  • Control
  • Robotics
  • Site testing


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