FP7 Opticon program

The Adaptive Optics department is leading one of the Joint Research Activities financed by the European Commission in the frame of the Opticon FP7 program.

The opticon Fp7 program is detailed at the following link.


JRA1 Objectives

Adaptive optics technology, using both natural and laser guide stars, is the key technology for the next major advance in ground-based optical-IR astronomy. The primary goal of this set of activities is to design and develop Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics systems for the existing large telescopes (Large Binocular Telescope, Very Large Telescope, William Herschel Telescope), to upgrade extent Adaptive Optics systems for Solar telescope (GREGOR solar telescope) and to upgrade the Very Large Telescope Planet Finder instrument (SPHERE) to maintain its competitiveness in the period 2010-2012. In addition to their direct impact on European research quality, these programmes have long-term impact as pathfinders for the future 42 m European Extremely Large Telescope and for the 4 m European Solar Telescope. The secondary objective of this Joint Research Activity is to develop Adaptive Optics key technologies required by the existing European Adaptive Optics Facilities. Critical technologies addressed are: Sodium laser sources at 589 nm for high signal to noise wavefront sensing, real time computer platforms (hardware and Software) for both high order and flexible low order AO systems, optimum control algorithms for new Adaptive Optics concepts (multi-Object AO), calibration of large deformable mirrors and operation strategies for adaptive telescopes.

Description of JRA1 work

WP 1.1: Coordination

This work package will coordinate the RTD activities, prepare the key specifications for the other WPs, organise study and design reviews, prepare the annual reports and detailed work plans for the Opticon management. Excellent communication between the Participants will be ensured by dedicated meetings and proper dissemination of documents.

WP 1.2: Laser Guide Star Multi-Object Adaptive Optics system on William Herschel Telescope

The CANARY pathfinder for the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope is a European collaborative project comprising Durham University, CNRS-INSU-LESIA, ONERA, STFC-UKATC and CNRS-INSU-LAM. This work package will provide the effort to develop Rayleigh laser power, laser guide star wavefront sensors, calibration, and Real Time Computer (RTC) capacity to support the phase C upgrade of CANARY."Real time computer capacit" includes the work on the hardware and software extensions to the CANARY RTC used in previous phases, as well as optimized control algorithms and detailed adaptive tomography. All of these enhanced capacities will require detailed specification and design with appropriate reviews (and have related milestones and deliverables).
The final report will be a detailed evaluation of the technical implementation and performance of Laser Guide Stars multi-object adaptive optics - and how these issues scale with telescope diameter. We shall also produce a working multiple Laser Guide Star multi-object adaptive optics system, which may be used for the collaborative on-sky evaluation of future candidate technologies such as novel Laser Guide Star wavefront sensors.

Access to the William Herschel Telescope is also required to perform the on-sky experiments. 9 nights are requested at a cost of 10 k€ per night (ie, access cost plus specialist technical support). Minimum 4 additional discretionary nights will be requested at no cost for OPTICON for the testing on-sky.

WP1.3: Very Large Telescope Planet Finder Upgrade

In the frame of the Very Large Telescope 2nd generation instrumentation, ESO has launched the development of SPHERE (VLT Planet Finder), with a first light planned in 2011; equipped with an extreme adaptive optics system (SAXO), various coronagraphs, an infrared differential imaging camera (IRDIS), an infrared integral field spectrograph (IFS) and a visible differential polarimeter (ZIMPOL). Techniques to directly image exo-planets are a rapidly moving field. New ideas and possible upgrades have already been identified to further enhance the performance and the scientific competitiveness of SPHERE compared to similar instrument under development for the Gemini observatory in the US.

WP1.3 led by CNRS-INSU-LAOG in collaboration with ONERA, and ESO will develop and implement innovative methods to better control the quasi-static aberrations, which clearly remain one of the critical limitations in terms of ultimate detection capabilities in the current design and new Adaptive Optics real time algorithms. The two main tasks of this WP are:

  • Design of post focal wavefront sensors: phase diversity algorithms to calibrate non common path aberrations with the coronagraphic device and on-line measurement of non common path aberrations using the post focal plane wavefront sensor.
  • Optimization of real time algorithms for the adaptive optics system of SPHERE.

WP1.4: Laser Ground Layer Adaptive Optics System for the Large Binocular Telescope

This WP will develop the design of a multi laser based Ground Layer Adaptive Optics for the eight meter Large Binocular Telescope. This facility will make use of the existing deformable secondary mirror with 672 actuators and will offer wide field of view seeing improvement capability. This system should be able to provide a gain of a factor =1.5 in FWHM and =2 in energy concentration, while also improving telescope efficiency by enhancing operability above median seeing.

Max-Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), PI of this WP together with Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory (INAF-OAA) and Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) will develop the design of this facility. The implementation of this upgrade (not part of the present WP) is planned to be pursued rapidly and should be able to deliver exquisite image quality and spectroscopy sensitivity with the existing LUCIFER instrument.

WP1.5: Solar Adaptive Optics

The main objectives of the WP 1.5 is to improve the science capabilities and to upgrade the 1.5-m GREGOR telescope located in Tenerife with a high order pupil-plane AO — already funded for MCAO but with low-order pupil-plane AO. Apart from the science improvement of this facility, the implementation of high order Multi Conjugate AOs on one Solar telescope operating at this site will provide important information about the expected performance of the EST equipped with similar AO system. The Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik (KIS) will develop the high order AO system for the 1.5 m GREGOR solar telescope and will investigate its MCAO performance using the existing low order deformable mirror in the reimaged telescope pupil. A corresponding test report will be produced.

WP1.6: Sodium Laser prototype for Adaptive Optics

The aim of this work package is to develop a sodium laser source at 589nm with equivalent power ranging from 15-25W with an optimized spectral format, demonstrating a fully functional laser Pre-Production Unit (PPU) or advanced prototype, potentially used for the Very Large Telescope Adaptive Optics Facility.

The unit will be developed by the laser industry (either in Europe or in the US) under subcontract from ESO.

Following a Call for Tender with the usual ESO legal and management procedures for large European contracts, a first phase of preliminary design (fixed cost), possibly with component validations will be conducted. The proposed design will be validated by a board of experts in the field, with this board solicited and chaired by the ESO WP1 coordinator.

This design phase will be followed by a final design and the development of a laser PPU or advanced laser prototype. The latter will be extensively tested by the supplier before delivery to ESO.

ESO may decide to upgrade this laser pre-production unit or prototype to a final operation unit (not part of the JRA1 scope of work).

This work package led by ESO is divided in several tasks:

  • Preparation of Laser Technical Specifications, Statement of Work and Call for Tender documentation
  • Laser preliminary design
  • Laser final design and development of laser pre-production unit or advanced prototype
  • Testing and delivery of the laser pre-production unit or prototype (supplier)

WP1.7: European Real Time platform for Adaptive Optics

In the Opticon-FP6 Joint Research Activities -1 (JRA-1) an advanced real time architecture for Adaptive Optics capable of handling 1500 channels at up to 1.5KHz frame-rate was studied. This architecture, called SPARTA, was successfully studied up to preliminary design and prototyped to demonstrate the performance of this platform.

The European Adaptive Optics community has expressed strong interest in a lightweight and more affordable version of this platform in order to serve both on sky experiments and small size adaptive optics systems. SPARTA-light is a project initiated by ESO such that it can serve research projects in advanced algorithms and adaptive optics concepts, with the potential to easily grow to a fully deployable system.

This work package, led by ESO in collaboration with University of Durham and ONERA, will procure software modules from industry for joint use in both SPARTA light (WP1b.3) and in the Real-Time Computer (RTC) for CANARY (LGS MOAO on the WHT: WP1a.2). These modules will consist of high-speed real-time control components and, where appropriate, their associated configuration and visualisation elements. Deliverables will be based on proven already available software, but will be selected, modularised, interfaced and documented according to specifications jointly derived by ESO (the SPARTA-light project) and the CANARY consortium (ONERA, LESIA, LAM, UoD, UKATC). The intellectual property arrangement will also be jointly specified, and will make the source code available for free non-commercial re-use by the CANARY and SPARTA-light user base. Funds will be primarily held by ONERA who will subcontract the module development under the jointly agreed specification. UoD will integrate the modules into an RTC system for CANARY, which will follow SPARTA-light specifications wherever possible. UoD will agree the interface specifications with ESO, and the performance specifications and testing criteria for the integrated CANARY system with LESIA and ONERA.

WP1.8: Optimal Control algorithms for wide field adaptive optics

This work package will study optimal control for wide field Adaptive Optics, in particular for Multi Object Adaptive Optics. The outcome of this work package will be directly applied to the Natural and Laser Guide Star Multi Object Adaptive Optics System (CANARY) planned to be installed on the William Herschel Telescope. The results of the study will provide the requirements and algorithms to be implemented in the real time computer. This control algorithm will be validated in the laboratory.
This work package, led by ONERA with a subcontract to L2TI, is divided in three tasks:

  • Study of the Control Strategy for Natural and Laser Guide Stars Multi Object Adaptive Optics
  • Algorithms requirements for the real time computer
  • Laboratory validation of the control algorithms

WP1.9: Calibration, control and operation of an adaptive telescope with LGS

The Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF) is a project that will transform one telescope of the Very Large Telescope at Paranal Observatory into an Adaptive Telescope. This Facility will be tested in the laboratories of ESO using a test bench called ASSIST (The Adaptive Secondary Setup and Instrument STimulator) before being assembled on the telescope.

The aim of WP 1.9 is twofold:

  • Calibration of a deformable secondary mirror based adaptive optics system
  • Operation and Control of an adaptive telescope with laser guide stars

The first task will address the problem of estimating on-sky and pseudo synthetic interaction matrices and will demonstrate the possibility to identify and update online the control matrix.

The second task will study the interaction and control strategy of adaptive optics, active optics and telescope guiding; deformable mirror - wavefront sensor mis-registration management; laser guide star jitter and focus loop management; and mitigation of the effect coming from LGS spot size variation (minimization of the pseudo static aberration by a low bandwidth wavefront sensor and update of centroiding gains). The on-sky validation at the VLT of these methods is not part of the WP 1.9 scope of work.

This work package is led by ESO in collaboration with Leiden University (NOVA).