Adaptive Optics (AO) systems aim at detecting and correcting for optical distortions induced by atmospheric turbulences. The Gemini Multi Conjugated AO System GeMS is operational and regularly used for science observations since 2013 delivering close to diffraction limit resolution over a large field of view. GeMS entered this year into a new era. The laser system has been upgraded from the old 50W Lockheed Martin Coherent Technologies (LMCT) pulsed laser to the Toptica 20/2W CW SodiumStar laser. The laser has been successfully commissioned and is now used regularly in operation. In this paper we first review the performance obtained with the instrument. I will go then into the details of the commissioning of the Toptica laser and show the improvements obtained in term of acquisition, stability, reliability and performance.
AO systems aim at detecting and correcting for optical distortions induced by atmospheric turbulences. They are also extremely sensitive to extraneous sources of perturbation such as vibrations, which degrade the performance. The Gemini South telescope has currently two main AO systems: the Gemini Multi Conjugated AO System GeMS and the Gemini Planet Imager GPI. GeMS is operational and regularly used for science observation delivering close to diffraction limit resolution over a large field of view (85×85 arcsec<sup>2</sup>). Performance limitation due to the use of an integrator for tip-tilt control is here explored. In particular, this type of controller does not allow for the mitigation of vibrations with an arbitrary natural frequency. We have thus implemented a tip-tilt Linear Quadratic Gaussian (LQG) controller with different underlying perturbation models: (<i>i</i>) a sum of autoregressive models of order 2 identified from an estimated power spectrum density (s-AR2) of the perturbation,<sup>1</sup> already tested on CANARY<sup>2</sup> and routinely used on SPHERE;<sup>3</sup> (<i>ii</i>) cascaded ARMA models of order 2 identified using prediction error minimization (c-PEM) as proposed in.<sup>4, 5</sup> Both s-AR2 and c-PEM were parameterized to produce tip or tilt state-space models up to order 20 and 30 respectively. We discuss the parallelized implementation in the real time computer and the expected performance. On-sky tests are scheduled during the November 2016 run or the January 2017 run.
GeMS, the Gemini South MCAO System, has now been in operation for 3 years with the near infrared imager GSAOI. We first review the performance obtained by the system, the science cases and the current operational model. In the very near future, GeMS will undergo a profound metamorphosis, as we will integrate a new NGS wavefront sensor, replace the current 50W laser with a more robust one and prepare for a new operational model where operations will shift from the mountain to the base facility. Along this major evolution, we are also presenting several improvements on the loop control, calibrations and automatization of this complex system. We discuss here the progress of the different upgrades and what we expect in terms of performance improvements and operational efficiency.
The Gemini Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System (GeMS) at the Gemini South telescope in Cerro Pachon is the first sodium Laser Guide Star (LGS) adaptive optics (AO) system with multiple guide stars. It uses five LGSs and two deformable mirrors (DMs) to measure and compensate for distortions induced by atmospheric turbulence. After its 2012 commissioning phase, it is now transitioning into regular operations. Although GeMS has unique scientific capabilities, it remains a challenging instrument to maintain, operate and upgrade. In this paper, we summarize the latest news and results. First, we describe the engineering work done this past year, mostly during our last instrument shutdown in 2013 austral winter, covering many subsystems: an erroneous reconjugation of the Laser guide star wavefront sensor, the correction of focus field distortion for the natural guide star wavefront sensor and engineering changes dealing with our laser and its beam transfer optics. We also describe our revamped software, developed to integrate the instrument into the Gemini operational model, and the new optimization procedures aiming to reduce GeMS time overheads. Significant software improvements were achieved on the acquisition of natural guide stars by our natural guide star wavefront sensor, on the automation of tip-tilt and higher-order loop optimization, and on the tomographic non-common path aberration compensation. We then go through the current operational scheme and present the plan for the next years. We offered 38 nights in our last semester. We review the current system efficiency in term of raw performance, completed programs and time overheads. We also present our current efforts to merge GeMS into the Gemini base facility project, where night operations are all reliably driven from our La Serena headquarter, without the need for any spotter. Finally we present the plan for the future upgrades, mostly dedicated toward improving the performance and reliability of the system. Our first upgrade called NGS2, a project lead by the Australian National University, based a focal plane camera will replace the current low throughput natural guide wavefront sensor. On a longer term, we are also planning the (re-)integration of our third deformable mirror, lost during the early phase of commissioning. Early plans to improve the reliability of our laser will be presented.