The KARMA Software

What is KARMA ?

KARMA - the KMOS ARM Allocator - is a stand-alone software tool that is based on the ESO Real Time Display (RTD) package, better known through its Skycat extension. It supports you in preparing observations with the multi-object integral field spectrometer KMOS. KARMA allows you to find an optimal configuration for the individual robotic pick-off arm positions taking into account the target priorities and several mechanical and optical constraints.



Check the KMOS news

It might happen that one or more arms are not available for allocation due to technical problems for a certain period of time. This information is posted under 'Instrument Status' on the KMOS news page. Please consult this page before you start the preparation of your KMOS observations with KARMA (in particular if you have a visitor mode run that falls in a period when an arm is not available). It is then possible to disable arms in your KARMA session, i.e. disabled arms are not considered during arm allocation.



What you need

For a successful KARMA session you need the following things:

  • A prede fined KARMA catalogue in ASCII format. It shall contain the sky coordinates of all your scienti fic targets, potential reference and guide stars as well as (optionally) the positions of particularly bright objects, and a field center. Also the magnitudes and bands of the guide star(s) (R-band is mandatory!) and of the reference stars (band as close as possible to the chosen grating, e.g. I, z, J, H or K) have to be provided in the catalogue.
    Most important: all entries in the catalogue have to be on the same astrometric system and should have a relative positional accuracy of <0.2". Moreover, coordinates of high proper motion stars have to be corrected to the epoch of observation. And, please avoid double or multiple stars as reference targets.
  • A sky (FITS) image (preferentially in the infrared), which covers at least the KMOS Field of View (FoV). It is necessary only for the determination of a suitable sky background telescope position. Furthermore, it supports you in getting an impression of what you're actually doing, even if it is completely irrelevant for astrometry.
  • Optional: A network connection. An additional KARMA feature allows to search for additional bright objects (to be avoided by pick-off arms) via the 2MASS online catalogue. In order to use its web interface, your computer must be connected to the internet.

What you get

After a succsessful KARMA session the following things will be created:

  • One or more ASCII file(s) in the ESO-speci fic proprietary ('PAF') format, so-called 'KMOS set up files' or 'PAF files', which you have to attach to the KMOS Observation Block(s) you create with the P2PP tool.
  • One or two jpeg KMOS finding charts created with the "Finding Chart" plug-in of Skycat, and optionally one or more PostScript files showing your actual arm confi guration and corresponding position information.

The current version of KARMA is: KARMA-2.7

Important note

Version 2.7 (or higher) is an important upgrade of the KARMA tool and should be used from P100 onwards. The upgraded KARMA tool allows to allocate 2 arms to the same target, one at the Telescope at Science position and the other at the Telescope at Sky position. This strategy is useful, for example, if the number of targets is less
than 24. It has the advantage that the target is observed continuously throughout the whole nodding cycle, thus optimizing the observing time at the telescope. Please see further details in Sect. 7.1 of the KARMA user manual.

Supported Platforms

The latest version of KARMA is available as a source package and several precompiled binary distributions for the following 32- and 64-bit Linux platforms and for Mac OS X:

  • Intel x86 binary (32bit) for Linux
  • AMD/Intel x86_64 binary (64bit) for Linux
  • Intel Itanium IA-64 binary (64bit) for Linux
  • Intel x86 binary (32bit) for Mac OS X

You can determine the type of your hardware platform by typing: uname -m

The installation of the KARMA source package on other operating systems than listed above has not been tested, and therefore might not work.

KARMA Distribution

The KARMA software can be retrieved via anonymous FTP:



How to use KARMA


For information about the use of KARMA, please refer to the KARMA User Manual.

It is strongly recommended to be familiar with the observing capabilities of KMOS, which are presented in the KMOS instrument web page and the KMOS User Manual.


Instrument selector

This page is specific to KMOS