Poll: Who should schedule observations?

As we are moving towards production release of our SatNOGS Network, we would like to get more clarity around our access levels, specifically about who gets to use the network (ie. schedule observations). A couple of different ideas have been surfaced in the core team, but we would like additional input from all of you. Please select on the of the options (this is a poll!) or reply with your ideas.

  • Anyone (any registered account)
  • Ground station operators (all accounts with a registered ground station)
  • Active ground station operators (all accounts with a verified active ground station)
  • Moderated list of people (you need to request access with rationale and vouched by the core team)


I propose to expand the term active to active within the last X days and for at least X hours, since portable stations might not be active all the time and a station might be off for several days for maintenance and upgrades.

I propose a priority based system:
Not every person that wants to receive some satellites, may it even be for fun, has a groundstation at hand.

Anyone can schedule operations in free timespots, however a moderated list (universities, …) has priority access and can override observations.

That would be really interesting to implement technically speaking. Overriding could be tricky. Should we remove the observation completely or merely some jobs (sub tasks) in it?

I tend to agree with your overall point and notion though!

This is a good point… feel like changing my answer, not sure if either anyone or a moderated list of people would be appropriate though… hmm…

In the end, it probably all boils down into two aspects:

  • Is there enough ground station coverage with all the different antenna types to fulfill most of the observation requests (in parallel)? If not, people have to be actively driven into contribution.
  • Is there enough interest in the system to keep it operational at a high capacity level? If not, lower the hurdle to use it in order to attract potential project contributors.

A priority based system sounds very interesting, since it adresses both aspects. However, it is very important to keep powers balanced in order not to drive people away (e.g. if organisations like universities would automatically have higher priorities than individual station contributors who put their spare time into the project). A three stage system could be interesting where the lowest priority would be individuals without SatNOGS contribution, cuntributors with middle priority and projects with the highest priority.

Maybe a kind of mayority rule could be interesting, where entities (be it universities, hackerspaces, groups or individuals) apply and promote their projects and have to collect votes from the SatNOGS contributors in order to get into the highest priority class for the requested time period. Probably, the highest priority group needs to be moderated and restricted to a certain number of available slots (proportional to the available system capacity) at the same time to keep the system usable and give projects the possibilities to fulfill their needs during their runtime. Other projects would have to wait on a list until slots are available.

Concerning overriding: I guess a good solution would be to override sub tasks and inform the user, so he can decide if he wants to withdraw the observation completely or let it running. However, I would normally prohibit short-term override in order to give the users time to react. Maybe emergency override would be important if a sat mission is in danger. If a higher priority observation gets cancelled, the overridden sub tasks should automatically get rescheduled.

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Thought: Capabilities and capacity will change as the project and community grows. I’d recommend that whatever decision is made is time-boxed to a policy for 1 year and then the question be asked again.