Experimental Astronomy

, Volume 36, Issue 1–2, pp 407–424 | Cite as

Weather forecasting and dynamic scheduling for a modern cm/mm wave radiotelescope

  • F. T. Nasir
  • C. Castiglia
  • F. Buffa
  • G. L. Deiana
  • A. Delitala
  • A. Tarchi
Original Article


In order to maximize the productivity of a state of the art scientific instrument, concurrent projects that will be performed by the instrument itself should be scheduled and prioritized appropriately. In the case of radioastronomical facilities, the precedences are set on the basis of many parameters amongst which meteo-climatic variables play a fundamental role. The Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT) is nearly completed, and soon it will start performing radioastronomical observations in the 0.3–100 GHz frequency range. It is known that centimeter and especially millimeter wavelengths are affected by the atmospheric water vapor content and weather conditions. In order to increase the performances of observations at higher frequencies, detailed knowledge of the climatology of the telescope site is needed, moreover, accurate weather predictions that range several days ahead are particularly useful. Such information is mandatory for the implementation of a dynamic scheduling system through which the observations are scheduled according to the oncoming weather conditions. In this paper we compare the forecasts produced by a numerical weather prediction (NWP) model, provided by the local weather service, to the measurements conducted at the SRT site with ground-based instruments. The comparisons are used to validate the NWPs in order to understand if they could be used for scheduling radioastronomical observations.Our analysis, clearly indicates that the model predictions are representative for the radiotelescope site. Indeed, the forecasts of water vapor and brightness temperatures, made up to 36 hours ahead, are consistent with the on-site measurements; wind forecasts are also correlated to the ground level measurements. In the score analysis we have deducted that the NWP model, on average, is consistent with the measurements more than 65 % of the time, implying that the majority of the radioastronomical observations would be performed in weather conditions which are appropriate to the frequency that is being used. By using the available NWP model and the on-site instrumentation, it is feasible to implement a dynamic scheduling system for the SRT.


Radiotelescope Dynamic scheduling system Water vapor Opacity Forecast Numerical weather prediction model 



This project has been supported by the regional Sardinian government law L.R. 7–2007. We would like to thank Alex Kraus and Ron Maddalena for useful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. T. Nasir
    • 1
  • C. Castiglia
    • 2
  • F. Buffa
    • 1
  • G. L. Deiana
    • 1
  • A. Delitala
    • 2
  • A. Tarchi
    • 1
  1. 1.Osservatorio Astronomico di CagliariCapoterraItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento IdroMeteoClimaticoArpasSassariItaly

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