Mads has been involved with the Stellar Observations Network Group (SONG) project since 2010 and since 2012 he has been employed as the SONG support astronomer. Among other things he has developed most of the software that enables the SONG telescope in Tenerife to operate in a fully automatic way every night.
Mads’ tasks will now include leading the development and operations of the telescopes in the SONG network. At the moment this includes the telescope in Tenerife and the future planned telescopes in China and Australia.
"The SONG telescope in Tenerife is one of the most advanced robotic telescopes in the world and to include the Chinese and the Australian node into the SONG network within the coming years is going to be an exciting and difficult challenge," says Mads, and he continues "The new node in Australia will be a fibre fed spectrograph which my colleague Frank Grundahl and I will design and develop here in Aarhus. Building and integrating the Australian node into the network will be our main focus for the coming years."
Mads started his work on the SONG project after finishing his studies at Aarhus University and his first task was to develop the control software for the CCD detector to be mounted on the spectrograph on Tenerife. Since then his main focus has been to develop nearly all the software that makes the SONG telescope in Tenerife operate in a fully automatic way every night.
Technical trips to Tenerife a few times a year is often necessary for instrumentation maintenance and upgrades.
"Building the prototype in Tenerife and designing the software to operate it has been a great learning process. We have identified a few things which we will now change in order to improve the design for the Australian node and perhaps we can adapt this to the Chinese node as well."
The tasks of the SONG manager will include leading the development and operations of all the telescopes in the SONG network which at the moment includes the telescope in Tenerife and the not yet fully automated telescope in China and the just recently funded telescope in Queensland, Australia. The new SONG node in Australia will use a 70cm telescope which is a bit smaller than the 1m telescope in Tenerife and in China. The smaller aperture will be compensated for by adding additional 70cm telescopes to the spectrograph. Applications for funding of two additional telescopes are submitted.
"My hope for the next four years is to have three functioning nodes in the SONG network and that we have started preparations for a fourth node which might be in Hawaii. I also look forward to see how we can benefit from the newly launched TESS mission which will observe roughly the same stars as SONG but in a very different way. The interplay between SONG and TESS will give us new insight into stellar evolution and will for sure shine new light on exoplanets around nearby stars."
Mads started in his new position as SONG manager on the 1st of April 2018 and his contract is set for 4 years following the new extension of the Stellar Astrophysics Centre (SAC II).
Funding for a new fibre-fed spectrograph is secured and a 70cm telescope to be located at the Mt. Kent Observatory in Southern Queensland, Australia is guaranteed.
Collaboration with colleagues at the University of Southern Queensland has led to a joint effort to construct a third SONG site in the eastern part of Australia.
The new site will consist of a 70cm telescope and a fibre-fed high resolution spectrograph with the possibility to add two additional telescopes to compensate for the smaller size of the individual telescopes.