From the May 2009 issue

How robots are looking for planets

A new generation of intelligent robotic telescopes search for planets in other solar systems.
By | Published: May 26, 2009
OGLE telescope
The Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) 1.3-meter telescope, shown here in its dome at Las Campanas Obsevatory in Chile, searches for faint variations in light from other stars suggest the presence of a planet or planets.

Robotic telescopes are hunting for extrasolar planets with the help of artificially intelligent software “agents” that allow the telescopes to communicate and even make decisions about what to look at. For example, researchers at Exeter’s Astrophysics Group and the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University are developing robotic telescope agents as part of its eScience Telescopes for Astronomical Research (eSTAR) project.