The first schedule of the Green Bank Telescope’s prototype Dynamic Scheduling System (DSS) was made June 1, 2008. The GBT will be scheduled using the DSS for the 08B trimester (June 1 - Sept 30, 2008). After September 30, the telescope will revert back to its previous scheduling system until the full release of the DSS (currently planned for summer 2009). User feedback from the beta test will allow the DSS team to ensure that the system will be readily usable by all GBT observers when the system is fully deployed.
The goal of the DSS is to maximize the observing efficiency of the telescope while ensuring that none of the flexibility and ease of use of the GBT is harmed and the data quality of observations is not adversely affected. The DSS works by breaking each project into one or more sessions. Project sessions have associated observing criteria such as RA, Dec, frequency, receiver. Observers may also enter dates when members of their team will not be available for either on-site or remote observing. The scheduling algorithm uses those data, along with the predicted weather, to determine the most efficient schedule for the GBT. The DSS provides all observers at least 24 hours notice of their upcoming observing. In the uncommon (< 20%) case where the predictions do not match the actual weather, a backup project, chosen from the database, will be run instead.
The majority of the DSS team met in the control room on Sunday morning, June 1 to release the first schedule (Figure 1). Overall the event went extremely smoothly, with the total time from initial release of the system to publishing the schedule being less than 1.5 hours. The system is now up and running, with GBT telescope schedules being built daily and weather checks of the schedule being made throughout the day.
Details of the DSS and access to the system are available on-line. The website contains an introduction to the DSS, which includes an overview of the information needed by the DSS to schedule a project, as well as a tutorial on using the system and a section of frequently asked questions. There are also links to the DSS help desk and to a chat facility for online help.