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27 July 2010 Manufacturing of the ESO adaptive optics facility
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The ESO Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF) consists in an evolution of one of the ESO VLT unit telescopes to a laser driven adaptive telescope with a deformable mirror in its optical train, in this case the secondary 1.1m mirror, and four Laser Guide Stars (LGSs). This evolution implements many challenging technologies like the Deformable Secondary Mirror (DSM) including a thin shell mirror (1.1 m diameter and 2mm thin), the high power Na lasers (20W), the low Read-Out Noise (RON) WaveFront Sensor (WFS) camera (< 1e-) and SPARTA the new generation of Real Time Computers (RTC) for adaptive control. It also faces many problematic similar to any Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) and as such, will validate many technologies and solutions needed for the European ELT (E-ELT) 42m telescope. The AOF will offer a very large (7 arcmin) Field Of View (FOV) GLAO correction in J, H and K bands (GRAAL+Hawk-I), a visible integral field spectrograph with a 1 arcmin GLAO corrected FOV (GALACSI-MUSE WFM) and finally a LTAO 7.5" FOV (GALACSI-MUSE NFM). Most systems of the AOF have completed final design and are in manufacturing phase. Specific activities are linked to the modification of the 8m telescope in order to accommodate the new DSM and the 4 LGS Units assembled on its Center-Piece. A one year test period in Europe is planned to test and validate all modes and their performance followed by a commissioning phase in Paranal scheduled for 2014.
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