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C. A Small Telescope Has Big Implications

Narrator: This is Science Today. A robotic telescope system called ROTSE, which was the first to capture a gamma ray burst in action, is surprisingly inexpensive compared to the standards of modern science. James Wren of the Los Alamos National Laboratory says everything on this system was pulled together with off the shelf products.

Wren: The ROTSE system itself consists of four Cannon telephoto lenses, two hundred millimeter - just normal things you can put on your very own camera and attached to those are CCD cameras which are electronic cameras and they work just like a normal camera. All the computers we use are normal, store-bought desktop PCs.

Narrator: With such humble components, ROTSE has proved to be a valuable tool for astronomers. It has a wider field of vision than large telescopes and can take about a thousand images a night of different locations.

Wren: And this data is very useful to astronomers who are looking for objects that can change on time scales that are short, as opposed to large observatories which only look at a single region of sky sometimes once every few weeks.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.