Closing the observing loop across continents: data transfer between Chile and Europe
The different tasks supporting the operations of ESO telescopes in Chile are carried out at widely separated locations, with some taking place at the observatory site and others in Europe at ESO's headquarters. A fundamental requirement to make such operations scheme viable is the need for a stable way of transferring the large amounts of data generated by the telescopes to Europe on the shortest possible timescale. We review technical progress that has allowed ESO in the last years to move from the transfer of data on physical media, with delays of up to two weeks, to the current transfer of most of the data stream through the internet within hours. We also describe the possibilities that will be open in the near future with EVALSO, an European Union co-funded project to provide full-fiber connectivity from the ESO observatory site on Paranal, and the nearby Cerro Armazones hosting the telescopes of the University of Bochum, all the way to Europe. Given the recent choice of Cerro Armazones as the future location of the European Extremely Large Telescope, upgrades in the communications infrastructure of Paranal and Cerro Armazones are very relevant to the ability to operate the current and future facilities at the complex in the geographically distributed manner required by their scale.
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