26 July 2016 Operational optical turbulence forecast for the service mode of top-class ground based telescopes
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Abstract
In this contribution we present the most relevant results obtained in the context of a feasibility study (MOSE) undertaken for ESO. The principal aim of the project was to quantify the performances of an atmospherical non-hydrostatical mesoscale model (Astro-Meso-NH code) in forecasting all the main atmospherical parameters relevant for the ground-based astronomical observations and the optical turbulence (CN2 and associated integrated astroclimatic parameters) above Cerro Paranal (site of the VLT) and Cerro Armazones (site of the E-ELT). A detailed analysis on the score of success of the predictive capacities of the system have been carried out for all the astroclimatic as well as for the atmospherical parameters. Considering the excellent results that we obtained, this study proved the opportunity to implement on these two sites an automatic system to be run nightly in an operational configuration to support the scheduling of scientific programs as well as of astronomical facilities (particularly those supported by AO systems) of the VLT and the E-ELT. At the end of 2016 a new project for the implementation of a demonstrator of an operational system to be run on the two ESO's sites will start. The fact that the system can be run simultaneously on the two sites is an ancillary appealing feature of the system. Our team is also responsible for the implementation of a similar automatic system at Mt.Graham, site of the LBT (ALTA Project). Our system/method will permit therefore to make a step ahead in the framework of the Service Mode for new generation telescopes. Among the most exciting achieved results we cite the fact that we proved to be able to forecast CN2 profiles with a vertical resolution as high as 150 m. Such a feature is particularly crucial for all WFAO systems that require such detailed information on the OT vertical stratification on the whole 20 km above the ground. This important achievement tells us that all the WFAO systems can rely on automatic systems that are able to support their optimized use.
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Elena Masciadri, Elena Masciadri, Franck Lascaux, Franck Lascaux, Alessio Turchi, Alessio Turchi, Luca Fini, Luca Fini, "Operational optical turbulence forecast for the service mode of top-class ground based telescopes", Proc. SPIE 9909, Adaptive Optics Systems V, 99090I (26 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2231196; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2231196
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