The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) spans a larger range of frequencies than comparable centimeter/millimeter single-dish telescopes, and is located in a continental, mid-latitude region where weather is dominated by water vapor and small-scale effects. As a result, the observing efficiency of the GBT can be enhanced significantly by dynamically scheduling observations best matched to weather conditions.
On October 1, the NRAO released a new Dynamic Scheduling System (DSS) for the GBT that significantly increases the flexibility of the telescope scheduling process. The primary goal of the DSS is to improve the efficiency of GBT observations by matching the observing schedule to current weather conditions while allowing each observer to retain interactive control of the telescope. Each day the DSS will examine the weather forecast, equipment availability, observer availability, and other factors, and set an observing schedule for the 24-hour period beginning the next day. Observers will thus receive 24-48 hours notice prior to their observations. Additionally, observers will have the opportunity to pause their observing program, set blackout dates indicating when they are unavailable for observing, and back out of current observations if they find the observing conditions are not suitable to their science goals.