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Adaptive Optics Projects

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AO Projects & Resources

The Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO): "The Center for Adaptive Optics Mission Statement: 'To advance and disseminate the technology of adaptive optics in service to science, health care, industry, and education.' The Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) is one of a number of National Science Foundation funded Science and Technology Centers (STCs). Initial funding began in 2000. The goal of the STCs is the funding of basic reseach and education activities and to encourage technology transfer and innovative approaches to interdisciplinary programs."

Adaptive Optics at the European Southern Observatory (ESO): "Since 1989, the European Southern Observatory has led the way in developing adaptive optics and laser guide star technologies. The VLT Laser Guide Star Facility was the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Over the years ESO has collaborated with several European institutes and industries in remaining a world leader in this field."

ESO's Adaptive Optics Team: "The Adaptive Optics department's mission is to provide its astronomical community with worldwide competitive ground-based adaptive optics observing capabilities overcoming the limitation of atmospheric turbulence. This requires developing, installing and commissioning state of the art Adaptive Optics facilities and forcening the necessary advanced technologies."

Gemini Observatory's Adaptive Optics page : "Information on Gemini's current, under-construction, and planned AO capabilities is collected on these pages. The December 2006 special issue of the GeminiFocus newsletter showcases Gemini's AO program and recent AO science results." Also on the site: "Adaptive Optics Primers - references and links to introductory documents."

University of Arizona and Steward Observatory's Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics (CAAO): "Founded in 1994, the mission of the Center is to support the advancement of astronomical science by providing the means by which to exploit observations at very high resolutions."

Starfire Optical Range (SOR): NOTE, don't be alarmed by the slightly intimidating disclaimer when you enter the site. "The primary mission of the SOR is to develop and demonstrate optical wavefront control technologies. The Starfire Optical Range houses a 3.5 meter telescope (one of the largest telescopes in the world equipped with adaptive optics designed for satellite tracking), a 1.5 meter telescope, and a 1.0 meter beam director. In addition to its primary research charter, the SOR also supports field experiments by others within the research community."

Imperial College Optics Group: "Adaptive Optics (AO) is most well known for its success in the field of astronomy where near diff raction limited performance has been achieved from terrestrial telescopes—but AO is also solving problems in retinal imaging, vision, free-space communications, laser systems and more. So far, each user group is originating their own system from scratch, with obvious expertise requirements and impact on cost and time. Our consortium is working on a low-cost, high performance plug-and-play toolkit for AO which will provide capability for all of the areas mentioned and more—moving adaptive optics out of the laboratory and into industrial and medical applications."

Adaptive Optics at Subaru: "Due to turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere, optical-infrared ground-based telescope always have lower resolution compared to space-based telescopes of the same size. The adaptive optics system removes this limitation by compensating for turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere in the real time. The AO system itself doesn’t have a detector; it is used in conjunction with a separate near-infrared instrument such as IRCS or CIAO."

Adaptive Optics at Mount Wilson Observatory: "In 1953, Horace Babcock, an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory, published a seminal paper on the new technology of adaptive optics -- a method of correcting for atmospheric disturbances of wavefronts in real time. The process described by Babcock involved measuring the distortions in the wavefront and correcting them very quickly in order to follow the rapidly changing patterns of atmospheric turbulence. The technology of the time was not up to the requirements and it was years before Babcock’s ideas could be implemented."

CFHT's Pueo AOB: The Pueo Adaptive Optics Bonnet is a 19 degree of freedom Curvature AO system, designed as a flexible user instrument for the CFHT telescope. The system is named after a native Hawaiian Owl.

University of Chicago ChAOS AO system: "ChAOS was designed to meet the need for an adaptive optics system that delivers excellent near-infrared image correction while still remaining affordable. Our goal was to achieve a Strehl ratio (the ratio of the on-axis intensity of the actual image to the on-axis intensity of an image produced by an ideal system limited only by diffraction effects) of 0.6 at a wavelength of 2.3 microns in one arcsecond seeing at the Apache Point 3.5m telescope."

Article about AO at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories with CfAO: "One of the CfAO’s major efforts is to study the requirements for extremely large optical telescopes, whose primary mirrors range from 30 to 100 meters in diameter. AO for these giant telescopes will allow scientists to achieve major advances in their knowledge of the universe. The center is developing long-range partnerships for working on key AO technologies that will be required to operate this new generation of telescopes. The technologies include improved deformable mirrors, wavefront sensors, and artificial guide stars."

Adaptive Optics at Durham University's Centre for Advanced Instrumentation: "CfAI develops state-of-the-art instruments for application across a wide range of disciplines including astronomical instrumentation, biophysics, remote sensing and fusion diagnostics."

Adaptive Optics at JPL: " Adaptive Optics: A technique that compensates for atmospheric turbulence by quickly adjusting the light path in the optics. This removes seeing effects and enables the telescope to achieve much better resolution, closer to its theoretical resolving power.... Current JPL Adaptive Optics Projects"

Adaptive Optics at the William Herschel Telescope: "NAOMI, mounted at the WHT Nasmyth focus, delivers near-diffraction-limited images in J, H and K bands (FWHM ~ 0.15 arcsec), and significant correction at shorter wavelengths. There are currently two science instruments: the optical integral-field spectrograph OASIS, and the IR imager INGRID."

Adaptive Optics at the Max Planck Institue for Astronomy

Adaptive Optics at KECK: Science and engineering information about KECK's adaptive optics systems.

Adaptive Optics at Palomar: "Adaptive Optics on the 200-inch Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory"

Adaptive Optics at the National Solar Observatory: "Solar scientists face the same challenge as night-time astronomers when observing from the ground: Earth's atmosphere blurs the view. Astronomers speak of being "seeing limited," or restricted to what atmospheric turbulence allows. The turbulence acts as a flexible lens, constantly reshaping what we are studying, and putting many of the answers about solar activity just beyond our reach."

Indiana Adaptive Optics Retina Camera: "The human retina is extremely thin and delicate, much like a piece of wet tissue paper. Yet its 1/100th of an inch thickness supports a microcosm of diverse cells organized in discrete layers, each playing a critical role in how we see. The ability of these retinal cells to function properly is unfortunately adversely impacted by disease, which can ultimately lead to blindness. Observing these cells through the natural pupil of the eye to see if they are healthy or sick is extremely difficult because optical defects in the cornea and crystalline lens blur the retinal image."

Outreach & Education

Australian Telescope Adaptive Optics Outreach and Education: "As light from distant celestial objects enters our atmosphere it gets disturbed by our ever-moving atmosphere. Adaptive optics (AO) corrects for the distortions in an image caused by this atmospheric turbulence. The distortion to incoming light is shown schematically below." " provides news and information for the world-wide adaptive optics community."

CTIO Adaptive Optics Tutorial: "The purpose of this tutorial is to provide an introduction to Adaptive Optics for engineers and other interested persons without going deep into the theory and in a limited amount of time. The formulas which are useful for estimating the system characteristics and/or to guide the design tradeoff will be given. The relevant terminology will be introduced. Examples and problems will be provided to help understanding the basic principles."

Adaptive Optics article on Universe Today: "'Twinkle, twinkle little star', how maddening! Adaptive optics (AO) to the rescue."

Astronomy Cast Podcast: "Ep. 89: Adaptive Optics. Since the dawn of humanity, astronomers have wished to destroy the atmosphere. Oh sure, it’s what we breathe and all, but that stupid atmosphere is always getting in the way. Since destroying the atmosphere is out of the question, astronomers have figured out how to work with it. To distort the mirror of the telescope itself though the magic of adaptive optics."

Commercial AO sources

Here is are some companies who offer products related to adaptive optics. We take no responsibility for the accuracy of the descriptions, since they were supplied by the respective companies.

Xinetics Inc, acquired by Northrop Grumann. "Xinetics was founded in 1993 to preserve critical defense-related active materials technologies and develop them into commercial precision motion-control products. Xinetics started in Littleton, Massachusetts at a single 2,500 square foot facility. The company now occupies five buildings with a total of 90,000 square feet in Devens, Massachusetts."

Wavefront sciences. "Welcome to AMO WaveFront Sciences, the first name in wavefront analysis and the world leader in wavefront sensing metrology. From providing highly sensitive optical measurement systems for space telescopes to presenting ophthalmic surgeons with detailed measurements for LASIK surgery, we are improving the vision of the world