We’re happy to announce the NSF funding of the prototype for the Argus Array, a large telescope consisting of 650 moderate-aperture, off-the-shelf telescopes multiplexed into a common hemispherical dome. The Argus Array will have the equivalent collecting area of a 5m telescope, and an étendue close to that of the Rubin Telescope (LSST), but will cover the sky in a very different way. Each 40 GPix Argus Array exposure covers 7930 square degrees with a sampling of 1.9″/pixel and a dark-sky limiting magnitude of g=19.5. Argus achieves deep imaging by observing every part of the sky at minute-cadence for 6-8 hours every night. Over five years, the Array will build a two-color, million-epoch movie of the northern sky, giving the astronomical community the unprecedented ability to follow the evolution of every g < 23.5 time-variable source across the sky simultaneously. A stretch-goal high-speed mode, currently under development, may allow all-sky cadences as short as seconds.
The Argus Array is based on almost entirely off-the-shelf parts. The Array’s pipelines are based on the already-operational Evryscope data analysis pipelines. The NSF’s current MSIP development investment will produce an operational prototype, retiring the risks associated with the unique design of the large-array telescope structure and demonstrating at-scale data analysis pipeline performance. The prototype will be complete and the project will be at the point of formal Preliminary Design Review by early 2022; the off-the-shelf telescopes and cameras will enable rapid construction of the full system.