Abstract. The eSTAR Project1 is a programme to build a prototype robotic telescope network to design and test the infrastructure and software which could be used in larger scale projects. The network consists of a number of autonomous telescopes, and associated rapid data reduction pipelines, connected together using Globus middleware. Intelligent agents carry out resource discovery, submit observing requests, and analyse the reduced data returned by the telescope nodes. The agents are capable of carrying out data mining and cross-correlation tasks using online catalogues and databases and, if necessary, requesting follow-up observations from the telescope nodes. We discuss the design and implications of the eSTAR software and its implications with respect to the GRID. 1. Just Imagine... Imagine a system which has unified access to archived data, to telescopes and to bibliographic data. In addition the system has intelligent agents (IAs) which can interpret the results. In this paper I hope to persuade you that such a system, with a seamless interface between telescopes and databases, indeed making telescopes look like databases and visa versa, will bring enormous benefits. 2. The Observational Grid There are two fundamental ideas behind eSTAR which make it a unique project. The first is to treat both telescopes and databases in as similar a fashion as possible, both being made available as a resource on the ‘Observational Grid’. The second is that the main user of that grid should not be humans making observing requests, but should be intelligent agents
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