The data acquisition system petravick94 records information from the imaging camera, spectrographs, and photometric telescope. Data are transferred via magnetic tape, with critical, low-volume samples sent over the internet. Each system uses report files to track the observations.
Data from the imaging camera are collected in the Time Delay Integration (TDI, or Drift Scan) mode. We treat the data from each imaging camera column of 5 photometric and 2 astrometric CCDs as a scan line. For convenience, data from each CCD are broken into frames containing 1361 lines. Before processing, the 128 rows from the next frame are added to the top of each frame, so that the pipelines work on 20481489 images. The resulting overlap between reduced frames (128 rows) is roughly the same as the number of columns that overlap with the other strip of a stripe. Some objects are detected in more than one frame, but when loading the databases we mark one of these detections as the ``primary'' detection (see the discussion in § 4.7 below). The frames which correspond to the same sky location in each of the five filters are grouped together for processing as a field. Frames from the astrometric CCDs are not saved, but rather stars from them are detected and measured in real time to provide feedback on telescope tracking and focus. These measurements are also written to magnetic tape. This same analysis is done for the photometric CCDs, and we save these results along with the actual frames. Each night, a special bias run is taken to monitor the bias levels on CCD amplifiers.
Data from the spectrographs are read from the four CCDs (one red channel and one blue channel in each of the two spectrographs) after each exposure. A complete set of exposures includes bias, flat, arc, smear, and science exposures taken through the fibers, as well as a uniformly illuminated flat to take out pixel-to-pixel variations.
Data from the photometric telescope include bias frames, dome and twilight flats for each filter, measurements of primary standards in each filter, and measurements of our secondary calibration patches in each filter.
All of these systems are supported by a common set of observers programs, with observer interfaces customized for each system to optimize our observing efficiency.