SuperCOSMOS - Overview


SuperCOSMOS is the Royal Observatory Edinburgh's advanced photographic plate digitising machine. It succeeds COSMOS which was in operation at the ROE until December 1993, and is 10 times more powerful than its predecessor.

The facility can accept glass plates and films up to 500mm x 500 mm in size, although to date the most frequently scanned plates are those from the major Schmidt Telescopes. The photographic material are digitised to 15 bits (32768 grey levels) with a resolution of 10 microns. The central 6 x 6 degree square region of a Schmidt plate is digitised in a timescale of ~ 2 hours, producing some 2 Gytes of pixel data. These data are subsequently processed off-line, producing typically ~ 50 Mbytes of object data for each high-Galactic latitude, sky-limited exposure (~300,000 astronomical objects).

The prime task of SuperCOSMOS is now the systematic digitisation of the photographic material from the major sky surveys (from the UK Schmidt Telescope in the Southern sky and the Palomar Schmidt in the North). The main drive of this work is the construction of a major multi-colour, multi-epoch Object Catalogue covering the sky.

A limited amount of time on the facility is available for routine scanning of users' plates on request. Users can receive the raw pixel data for their plates, or solely the object data or both. Data transport is usually in the form of exabyte or DAT tape in TAR format, or data can be made available via FTP.

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Loading a Schmidt plate ready for scanning.