MODS Data-Taking System

The best configuration is for the observer operating MODS (running scripts, monitoring instrument activity, etc.) to be on the observing workstation nearest the Telescope Operator for the night. The MODS control panel GUI, terminal windows for running scripts, and raw image displays fill most of two monitors (three would be better, two is what we got).

A second observer should be stationed at the next workstation over and tasked with examining incoming MODS data and be ready to run programs like modsAlign for target alignment.

This page describes the setup for a MODS observer.


The MODS instrument needs to be powered on, and the low-level instrument and detector control systems started. This is normally done by the support scientist on site (see the MODS1 Instrument Startup Procedure) before you can begin. The rest of this how-to guide assumes MODS is up and running.

Login to the workstation console nearest the telescope operator's station (currently obs2), using the observing account for your partner institutions (i.e., AZ, INAF, LBTB, OSURC, or LBTO). These accounts have been configured to be able to run the various MODS observing tools. In particular, make sure that the LBC and LUCI control programs are not running (if these are needed, use another console for them).

On login, clear the two monitors of all windows to start. This includes browsers and any other extraneous programs.

Launch a terminal window, and at the linux shell prompt type
mods1 status
This will show you the current status of the MODS data-taking system. For example:
% mods1 status
MODS1 Status at 2014 Jan 08 14:26:14

MODS1 Instrument Server:
  Service       State           Owner
  IE            Running         mods
  AGw           Running         mods
  redIMCS       Running         mods
  blueIMCS      Running         mods
  modsenv       Running         mods
  lbttcs        Running         mods
  modsUI        Stopped
MODS1 Data Server:
  Service       State           Owner
  isis          Running         mods
  Red Caliban   Running         mods
  Blue Caliban  Running         mods
In this case, the support scientist has started all of the main services from the "mods" support account, and only the MODS user interface (modsUI) is not running.

This is the state required to at least be able to start the MODS Control Panel.

Starting the MODS Observing Session

MODS Control Panel GUI

From a terminal type
mods1 start gui
to launch the MODS Control Panel graphical user interface. You will get a splash screen, and then the MODS GUI should show you the welcome/setup screen.

The icons in the vertical white box along the left-hand side of the GUI are used to navigate among the different control panels:
  • Setup = session setup panel
  • MODS1 = MODS1 Instrument Dashboard
  • Housekeeping = Instrument environmental monitor and communications log
  • Utilities = Instrument power and utilities control panels

Each of these are described in the MODS GUI wiki page. Here we will focus on the screens most important for starting your observing session: the Setup panel and the Dashboard.d

Instrument Setup Panel


The setup panel is where you enter basic information for the observing session. This includes the starting values for the archive information (observers, partner ID, etc.), and set the filename for the night's data.

These data are stored on disk, so that if you need to restart the MODS GUI, it will reload these as starting. The default values for the key archive keywords (PARTNER, PROPID, and PI_NAME) will be changed by the observing scripts you run during the night, but the observer and support personnel names will not change.

MODS FITS image filenames use the UTC date and a sequence number as follows:
mods1b.CCYYMMDD.####.fits - MODS1 Blue Channel Images
mods1r.CCYYMMDD.####.fits - MODS1 Red Channel Images
CCYYMMDD = the UTC date, e.g., 20110501
#### = 4-digit sequence number, running 0001 to 9999
It is extremely important that you get the date correct. The MODS data-taking system is setup to prevent overwriting images with the same name. It can be terribly confusing when the anti-overwrite mechanism kicks in - you don't want this to happen.

The LBTO support astronomers and partner observers together are responsible for making sure the filenames are set correctly for the UTC date of the night of observing, and for making sure that old images are properly archived or erased, and that the starting filenames are set correctly.

Instrument Dashboard

Most of the time you will have the MODS1 Dashboard active. Get it by clicking on the MODS1 icon in the white box along the left side of the GUI:


The dashboard shows you the current status of all MODS instrument systems, exposure parameters, and the exposure or configuration progress. Entries turn amber when states are changing, red if there are faults, and have neutral colors when nothing is changing.

A command box at the bottom lets you enter MODS commands, or you can use the GUI widgets (buttons and entry boxes) to make changes. While running acquisition, observing, and calibration scripts, the dashboard will show you the progress of the operations.

MODS Raw Image Display

Open a new terminal and type the command
to start the MODS raw image displays.


This will launch two dedicated ds9 windows labeled "MODS1Blue" and "MODS1Red", and the terminal window will display a running log of all MODS raw images as they reach the LBTO data archive staging disk (/newdata).

More info at: MODSDisplayTool

-- RichardPogge - 11 Aug 2011
Topic revision: r4 - 08 Jan 2014, KelleeSummers
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