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21 July 2010 Status of PRIMA for the VLTI or the quest for user-friendly fringe tracking
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The Phase Referenced Imaging and Micro Arcsecond Astrometry (PRIMA) facility for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), is being installed and tested in the observatory of Paranal. Most of the tests have been concentrated on the characterization of the Fringe Sensor Unit (FSU) and on the automation of the fringe tracking in preparation of dual-field observations. The status of the facility, an analysis of the FSU performance and the first attempts towards dual-field observations will be presented in this paper. In the FSU, the phase information is spatially encoded into four independent combined beams (ABCD) and the group delay comes from their spectral dispersion over 5 spectral channels covering the K-band. During fringe tracking the state machine of the optical path difference controller is driven by the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) derived from the 4 ABCD measurements. We will describe the strategy used to define SNR thresholds depending on the star magnitude for automatically detecting and locking the fringes. Further, the SNR as well as the phase delay measurements are affected by differential effects occurring between the four beams. We will shortly discuss the contributions of these effects on the measured phase and SNR noises. We will also assess the sensitivity of the group delay linearity to various instrumental parameters and discuss the corresponding calibration procedures. Finally we will describe how these calibrations and detection thresholds are being automated to make PRIMA as much as possible a user-friendly and efficient facility.
© (2010) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
C. Schmid, R. Abuter, S. Ménardi, L. Andolfato, F. Delplancke, F. Derie, N. Di Lieto, R. Frahm, Ph. Gitton, N. Gomes, P. Haguenauer, S. Lévêque, S. Morel, A. Müller, T. Phan Duc, Eszter Pozna, J. Sahlmann, N. Schuhler, and G. van Belle "Status of PRIMA for the VLTI or the quest for user-friendly fringe tracking", Proc. SPIE 7734, Optical and Infrared Interferometry II, 77340F (21 July 2010);


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