A new global array of optical telescopes: The Falcon Telescope Network
The Falcon Telescope Network is a worldwide array of optical telescopes designed by the Center for Space Situational Awareness Research in the Department of Physics at the USAFA. FTN is composed of 12 telescopes located on four continents, designed to study low-altitude artificial satellites, to identify and characterize geosynchronous satellites based on simultaneous observations from different latitudes of the world, and to study astronomical sources in the nearby universe.
Each FTN node includes an Officina Stellare Ritchey– Chrétien telescope Pro RC 500 model, with a 500 mm (20 inches) primary mirror, an f/8.1 focal ratio, and a 4000 mm (160′′) focal distance, a Software Bisque Paramount ME2 mount, an Apogee AFW50-9R filter wheel mounted on the Cassegrain focus, equipped with broadband Sloan-prime filters g′, r′, i′, z′ as well as another three filters of the Johnson–Cousins photometric system (B, V, R). In addition, each filter wheel has a Richardson diffraction grating (100 lines per mm) and an Astrodon filter to detect exoplanets.
In this presentation, I will summarise the first five years of operation of the FALCON network, emphasizing the research projects that have been carried out, the operational status of the network, and the future of the study of near-space at the University of La Serena.