SciMeasure, in collaboration with Emory University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), has developed an extremely versatile CCD controller for use in adaptive optics, optical interferometry, and other applications requiring high-speed readout rates and/or low read noise. The overall architecture of this controller system will be discussed and its performance using both EEV CCD39 and MIT/LL CCID-19 detectors will be presented. Initially developed for adaptive optics applications, this controller is used in the Palomar Adaptive Optics program (PALAO), the AO system developed by JPL for the 200' Hale telescope at Palomar Mountain. An overview of the PALAO system is discussed and diffraction-limited science results will be shown. Recently modified under NASA SBIR Phase II funding for use in the Space Interferometry Mission testbeds, this controller is currently in use on the Micro- Arcsecond Metrology testbed at JPL. Details of a new vacuum- compatible remote CCD enclosure and specialized readout sequence programming will also be presented.
We discuss conceptual design issues for a 1600 actuator tweeter mirror/multiconjugate AO upgrade to the 349 actuator Palomar Adaptive Optics System (PALAO). Based upon a 42 X 42 actuator Photonex deformable mirror technology, developed by Xinetics, Inc., this upgrade would enable unique science at visible wavelengths and deliver unprecedented near-infrared Strehl ratios for modestly bright (mV equals 9) guide stars. When used in conjunction with the existing 349 actuator Xinetics, Inc. deformable mirror, a series of pressing issues regarding the practical utility of multiconjugate adaptive correction for extremely large telescopes could be addressed. By utilizing a low noise (EEV39) wavefront sensor camera developed by SciMeasure Analytical Systems, Inc., this system would provide on-axis K-band Strehl ratio of > 95%, improving scientific throughput and enabling the detection and spectroscopy of unresolved companions in an unprecedented contrast space around nearby stars.