This paper summarizes the activities and the principal results achieved during the commissioning of the two Natural
Guide Star (NGS) AO systems called FLAO#1 & 2 installed at the bent Gregorian focal stations of the 2x8.4m Large
Binocular Telescope (LBT). The commissioning activities of FLAO#1 took place in the period February 2010 - October
2011, while FLAO#2 commissioning started in December 2011 and should be completed by November 2012. The main
results of the commissioning campaign are presented in terms of the H-band Strehl Ratio values achieved under different observing conditions. We will also describe the automatic procedures to configure and set-up the FLAO systems, and in particular the modal gain optimization procedure, which has been proven to be a very important one in achieving the
nominal performance. Finally, some of the results achieved in two science runs using the near infra-red camera PISCES
are briefly highlighted.
The Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) is a unique telescope featuring two co-mounted optical trains with 8.4m primary
mirrors. The telescope Adaptive Optics (AO) system uses two innovative key components, namely an adaptive
secondary mirror with 672 actuators and a high-order pyramid wave-front sensor. During the on-sky commissioning such
a system reached performances never achieved before on large ground-based optical telescopes. Images with 40mas
resolution and Strehl Ratios higher than 80% have been acquired in H band (1.6 μm). Such images showed a contrast as
high as 10<sup>-4</sup>. Based on these results, we compare the performances offered by a Natural Guide Star (NGS) system
upgraded with the state-of-the-art technology and those delivered by existing Laser Guide Star (LGS) systems. The
comparison, in terms of sky coverage and performances, suggests rethinking the current role ascribed to NGS and LGS
in the next generation of AO systems for the 8-10 meter class telescopes and Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs).
HERSCHEL is a suborbital mission which will observe the solar corona in the UV and visible light by means of two coronagraphs and an EUV imager. One of the two coronagraphs is SCORE (Sounding CORonagraphic Experiment), developed mainly by some Italian scientific institutions. SCORE performs imaging of the extended corona from 1.4 to 4 solar radii in the broadband visible and in the UV lines HI 121.6 nm and HeII 30.4 nm. The CCD visible camera (VLD) of SCORE has been designed, built and characterized at the XUVLab of the University of Florence. In this paper we will describe the VLD calibration and testing performed before launch in order to evaluate the performances of SCORE.
We are proposing an UV imaging spectro-polarimeter for the next UV space telescopes as WSO/UV. This instrument
has been selected as one of the three channels, the Near-UV channel, of the Field Camera Unit at the focal plane of the
WSO/UV telescope. Its optical design is based on a Wollaston prism followed by filters selecting the wavelength band
and by a spherical mirror and an elliptical convex grating giving the spectral dispersion in the 150-280 nm wavelength
range. This instrument allows a circular field of view of 1 arcmin with spatial resolution of 0.03 arcsec/pixel and low
spectral resolution. Four different slitless operational modes will be possible: the imaging mode and the polarimetric
mode, substituting the grating for an elliptical mirror and including or not the Wollaston prism, the spectral mode,
excluding the Wollaston prism from the optical path, and the spectro-polarimetric mode, including all the optical
elements in front of the entering radiation beam.
The <i>Extreme Universe Space Observatory</i> (EUSO) on the International Space Station (ISS) will detect the Ultra High Energy Cosmic Rays (UHECRs with E > 4 x 10<sup>19</sup> eV) and the high energy cosmic neutrino flux looking at the streak of fluorescence light produced when the particles interact with the Earth’s atmosphere. The photo-detector of EUSO experiment will consist of several Multi-Anode PhotoMultipliers (MAPMTs) arranged on the aspheric focal surface. Accurate pre-flight ground calibration and in-flight calibration are essential topics of the EUSO experiment to detect reliably the fluorescence light. In particular, the main target of calibration is to achieve spectroradiometric measurements of the telescope performance and of the absolute response of the detectors. This report will describe a first approach to, and some possible solutions for, the calibration system of the EUSO telescope and focal plane. This proposal will address the requirements to design the EUSO calibration system and the crucial items for further analyses and discussions.
A new concept CCD camera is currently under development at the XUVLab of the Department of Astronomy and Space Science of the University of Florence. This CCD camera is the proposed detector for the space- and ground-based solar corona observations. This camera will be the detector for the polarimetric channels of the UVC coronagraph of the HERSCHEL rocket mission to observe the solar corona in an optical broadband. The ground-based application consists in a UVC prototype for coronagraphic measurements from Earth in the visible range. Within this project, a CCD camera with innovative features has been produced: the camera controller allows the fine tuning of all the parameters related to charge transfer and CCD readout, i.e., the use of virtually any CCD sensor, and it implements the new concept of high level of versatility, easy management, TCP/IP remote control and display.
A new concept CCD camera is currently under development at the XUVLab of the Department of Astronomy and Space Science of the University of Florence. This CCD camera is the proposed detector for the broadband visible light polarimetric channels of the UVCI coronagraph of HERSCHEL and of Solar Orbiter space missions. The main features of this camera are a high level of versatility and a fast pixel that will satisfy the requirements of both the space missions. Within this project, a versatile CCD controller has been produced with interesting and innovative features: it allows the selection of all the parameters related to charge transfer and CCD readout and therefore it allows the use of virtually any CCD sensor. The software interface is LabVIEW 6i based and it will allow both local and remote control and display.