The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) will add polarization to the properties (time, energy, and position) observed in x-ray astronomy. A NASA Astrophysics Small Explorer (SMEX) in partnership with the Italian Space Agency (ASI), IXPE will measure the 2–8-keV polarization of a few dozen sources during the first 2 years following its 2021 launch. The IXPE Observatory includes three identical x-ray telescopes, each comprising a 4-m-focal-length (grazingincidence) mirror module assembly (MMA) and a polarization-sensitive (imaging) detector unit (DU), separated by a deployable optical bench. The Observatory’s Spacecraft provides typical subsystems (mechanical, structural, thermal, power, electrical, telecommunications, etc.), an attitude determination and control subsystem for 3-axis stabilized pointing, and a command and data handling subsystem communicating with the science instrument and the Spacecraft subsystems.
CANARY is a wide-field AO on-sky test facility which has been operated annually on the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope since 2010. CANARY has the stated goal of testing and demonstrating AO technologies that are critical for ELT AO performance. It has seen four distinct phases where new AO technologies have been developed and demonstrated, including NGS MOAO in 2010 (phase A), Rayleigh LGS and NGS MOAO in 2012 and 2013 (phase B, with LGS commissioning in 2011), LTAO operation in 2014 and 2015, and finally operation with a single Sodium laser guide star launched far off axis in 2016 and 2017 (phase D). By launching this laser guide star 40m off axis, extremely elongated laser guide star spots are created in the CANARY LGS Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor. Therefore, the 7×7 sub-apertures of CANARY can be used to test wavefront sensing performance of a sub-pupil of the ELT located furthest from the laser launch axis. We present an overview of CANARY in its phase D configuration. Depending on where in the sky the LGS is pointing, the projected baseline between the on-axis LGS wavefront sensor and the laser launch location, as seen by the wavefront sensor, will vary from about 20-40m, allowing us to artificially generate different degrees of elongation. Additionally, the well sampled CANARY sub-apertures have 30×30 pixels each and a 20 arcsecond field of view, using an OCAM2S EMCCD camera. This means that by shrinking sub-apertures, and optionally by binning pixels, we are able to investigate different pixel scales and fields of view for the ELT systems, thus determining the optimal design parameters. Here we discuss the closed loop tests that were performed to investigate the effect of spot truncation and extreme elongation. We include different correlation techniques, including standard FFT-based correlation, brute force correlation and correlation by difference squared. We also mention dynamic and automatic updates of the correlation reference images while the AO loop is engaged that have previously been reported. The matched filter algorithm is also mentioned, with a pointer to our prior on-sky investigations. We give our recommendation for the ELT wavefront sensing algorithm of choice, and our evidence based reasons for this recommendation, which may come as a surprise to some. Finally we also present the future experiments to be performed with CANARY, give details of the OPTICON funded programme which enables the hosting of AO experiments on CANARY, allowing the AO community to get involved.
Six Laser Guide Stars (LGS) are included in the design of the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), with all of its current instruments taking advantage of them using Shack-Hartmann (SH) wavefront sensors (WFS). However, this implementation raises new issues related to the unprecedented elongation that results from the perspective effect combined to the thickness of the sodium layer. In order to investigate wavefront sensing with an elongated LGS on a SH WFS, we are taking advantage of the presence of the multi-object adaptive optics demonstrator CANARY on the William Herschel Telescope (WHT), in La Palma island, that was upgraded with a sodium LGS WFS for our experiment. The LGS is generated by ESO’s transportable Wendelstein LGS unit and the elongation is obtained by positioning the laser launch telescope 40 meters away from the WHT. With this experiment we are able to measure wavefronts using an elongated LGS WFS. In this paper, we present results obtained during the latest run of observations in September 2017. In these results is comprised an error breakdown of wavefront measurement on elongated LGS. The performances of several centroiding methods are compared thanks to this error breakdown. Additionally, we take advantage of varying observation conditions with respect to seeing and sodium profile to establish the robustness of the different centroiding methods. Finally, these performances are evaluated for different SH designs, to explore which compromises can be reached with respect to pixel scale and sub-aperture field of view.
IXPE scientific payload comprises of three telescopes, each composed of a mirror and a photoelectric polarimeter based on the Gas Pixel Detector design. The three focal plane detectors, together with the unit which interfaces them to the spacecraft, are named IXPE Instrument and they will be built and calibrated in Italy; in this proceeding, we will present how IXPE Instrument will be calibrated, both on-ground and in-flight. The Instrument Calibration Equipment is being finalized at INAF-IAPS in Rome (Italy) to produce both polarized and unpolarized radiation, with a precise knowledge of direction, position, energy and polarization state of the incident beam. In flight, a set of four calibration sources based on radioactive material and mounted on a filter and calibration wheel will allow for the periodic calibration of all of the three IXPE focal plane detectors independently. A highly polarized source and an unpolarized one will be used to monitor the response to polarization; the remaining two will be used to calibrate the gain through the entire lifetime of the mission.
Residual speckles in adaptive optics (AO) images represent a well-known limitation on the achievement of the contrast needed for faint source detection. Speckles in AO imagery can be the result of either residual atmospheric aberrations, not corrected by the AO, or slowly evolving aberrations induced by the optical system. We take advantage of the high temporal cadence (1 ms) of the data acquired by the System for Coronagraphy with High-order Adaptive Optics from R to K bands-VIS forerunner experiment at the Large Binocular Telescope to characterize the AO residual speckles at visible wavelengths. An accurate knowledge of the speckle pattern and its dynamics is of paramount importance for the application of methods aimed at their mitigation. By means of both an automatic identification software and information theory, we study the main statistical properties of AO residuals and their dynamics. We therefore provide a speckle characterization that can be incorporated into numerical simulations to increase their realism and to optimize the performances of both real-time and postprocessing techniques aimed at the reduction of the speckle noise.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) performed a measurement campaign together in April and July 2016 at Teide-Observatory (Tenerife), with the support of the European Space Agency (ESA), to investigate the use of laser guide stars (LGS) in ground to space optical communications. Atmospheric turbulence causes strong signal fluctuations in the uplink, due to scintillation and beam wander. In space communications, the use of the downlink channel as reference for pointing and for pre-distortion adaptive optics is limited by the size of the isokinetic and isoplanatic angle in relation to the required point-ahead angle. Pointing and phase errors due to the decorrelation between downward and upward beam due to the point-ahead angle may have a severe impact on the required transmit power and the stability of the communications link. LGSs provide a self-tailored reference to any optical ground-to-space link, independently of turbulence conditions and required point-ahead angle. In photon-starved links, typically in deep-space scenarios, LGSs allow dedicating all downlink received signal to communications purposes, increasing the available link margin. The scope of the joint DLR-ESO measurement campaign was, first, to measure the absolute value of the beam wander (uplink-tilt) using a LGS, taking a natural star as a reference, and, second, to characterize the decrease of correlation between uplink-tilt and downlink-tilt with respect to the angular separation between both sources. This paper describes the experiments performed during the measurement campaigns, providing an overview of the measured data and the first outcomes of the data post-processing.
In the framework of the SHARK project the visible channel is a novel instrument synergic to the NIR channel and exploiting the performances of the LBT XAO at visible wavelengths. The status of the project is presented together with the design study of this innovative instrument optimized for high contrast imaging by means of high frame rate. Its expected results will be presented comparing the simulations with the real data of the “Forerunner” experiment taken at 630nm.
We develop an algorithm to retrieve mesospheric Na profiles from the ESO-IAC LGS experiment at Teide
Observatory (OT). We are using a bistatic configuration for Na LGS profiling between the ESO Wendelstein
LGS Unit (WLGSU) and the IAC80 telescope with a baseline of 126 m. We describe the geometry of the problem
and discuss the errors. The inputs are the observer pointing coordinates and the azimuth of the launcher, avoiding
the refraction effect on the beam. Accuracy in the coordinates is a must and the images should be astrometrized.
With an accuracy of 1" in the launcher azimuth, the absolute Na heights can be obtained with a resolution
better than 200 m (ZD=40°). We also propose a double observer telescope, 90° shifted, to avoid the effect of a
divergent solution when launching in the azimuth subtended between observer and launcher.
Residual speckles in adaptive optics (AO) images represent a well known limitation to the achievement of the contrast needed for faint stellar companions detection. Speckles in AO imagery can be the result of either residual atmospheric aberrations, not corrected by the AO, or slowly evolving aberrations induced by the optical system. In this work we take advantage of new high temporal cadence (1 ms) data acquired by the SHARK forerunner experiment at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), to characterize the AO residual speckles at visible waveleghts. By means of an automatic identification of speckles, we study the main statistical properties of AO residuals. In addition, we also study the memory of the process, and thus the clearance time of the atmospheric aberrations, by using information Theory. These information are useful for increasing the realism of numerical simulations aimed at assessing the instrumental performances, and for the application of post-processing techniques on AO imagery.
SHARK-NIR channel is one of the two coronagraphic instruments proposed for the Large Binocular Telescope, in the framework of the call for second generation instruments, issued in 2014. Together with the SHARK-VIS channel, it will offer a few observing modes (direct imaging, coronagraphic imaging and coronagraphic low resolution spectroscopy) covering a wide wavelength domain, going from 0.5μm to 1.7μm.
Initially proposed as an instrument covering also the K-band, the current design foresees a camera working from Y to H bands, exploiting in this way the synergy with other LBT instruments such as LBTI, which is actually covering wavelengths greater than L' band, and it will be soon upgraded to work also in K band. SHARK-NIR has been undergoing the conceptual design review at the end of 2015 and it has been approved to proceed to the final design phase, receiving the green light for successive construction and installation at LBT.
The current design is significantly more flexible than the previous one, having an additional intermediate pupil plane that will allow the usage of coronagraphic techniques very efficient in term of contrast and vicinity to the star, increasing the instrument coronagraphic performance. The latter is necessary to properly exploit the search of giant exo-planets, which is the main science case and the driver for the technical choices of SHARK-NIR. We also emphasize that the LBT AO SOUL upgrade will further improve the AO performance, making possible to extend the exo-planet search to target fainter than normally achieved by other 8-m class telescopes, and opening in this way to other very interesting scientific scenarios, such as the characterization of AGN and Quasars (normally too faint to be observed) and increasing considerably the sample of disks and jets to be studied.
Finally, we emphasize that SHARK-NIR will offer XAO direct imaging capability on a FoV of about 15"x15", and a simple coronagraphic spectroscopic mode offering spectral resolution ranging from few hundreds to few thousands. This article presents the current instrument design, together with the milestones for its installation at LBT.
The use of sodium laser guide star for Extremely Large Telescopes (ELT) adaptive optics systems is a key concern due to the perspective effect that produces elongated images in the Shack-Hartmann pattern. In order to assess the feasibility of using an elongated sodium beacon on an ELT, an on-sky experiment reproducing the extreme off-axis launch conditions of the European ELT is scheduled for summer and autumn 2016. The experiment will use the demonstrator CANARY installed on the William Herschel Telescope and the ESO transportable 20W CW fiber laser, embedded in the Wendelstein LGS unit. We will discuss here the challenges this experiment addresses as well as the details of its implementation and the derivation of the error budget.
We describe the design, functionalities and commissioning results of the Laser Pointing Camera, developed at INAF-OAR in collaboration with ESO and Astrel for the 4LGSF of the ESO Adaptive Optics Facility. The LPC has proven a fundamental tool during commissioning and operation of the 4LGSF. It allows to calibrate the pointing and focusing models of the four LGS, to reduce to zero the overhead time for the open-loop acquisition of the LGS in the wavefront sensor. During LGS-AO operation it collects regularly the LGS photometry, the LGS fwhm and the cirrus clouds scattering levels.
By recognizing via astrometric software the field stars as well as the multiple LGS, LPC is insensitive to flexures of the laser launch telescope or of the receiver telescope opto-mechanics. We present the Commissioning results of the Laser Pointing Camera, obtained at the ESO VLT during the all 4LGSF Laser Guide Star Units Commissioning, and will discuss its possible extension for the ELT operations.
We report on the comparison between observations and simulations of a completed 12-month field observation campaign at Observatorio del Teide, Tenerife, using ESO's transportable 20 watt CW Wendelstein laser guide star system. This mission has provided sodium photon return flux measurements of unprecedented detail regarding variation of laser power, polarization and sodium D2b repumping. The Raman fiber laser and projector technology are very similar to that employed in the 4LGSF/AOF laser facility, recently installed and commissioned at the VLT in Paranal. The simulations are based on the open source LGSBloch density matrix simulation package and we find good overall agreement with experimental data.
Every observatory using LGS-AO routinely has the experience of the long time needed to bring and acquire the laser guide star in the wavefront sensor field of view. This is mostly due to the difficulty of creating LGS pointing models, because of the opto-mechanical flexures and hysteresis in the launch and receiver telescope structures. The launch telescopes are normally sitting on the mechanical structure of the larger receiver telescope. The LGS acquisition time is even longer in case of multiple LGS systems. In this framework the optimization of the LGS systems absolute pointing accuracy is relevant to boost the time efficiency of both science and technical observations. In this paper we show the rationale, the design and the feasibility tests of a LGS Pointing Camera (LPC), which has been conceived for the VLT Adaptive Optics Facility 4LGSF project. The LPC would assist in pointing the four LGS, while the VLT is doing the initial active optics cycles to adjust its own optics on a natural star target, after a preset. The LPC allows minimizing the needed accuracy for LGS pointing model calibrations, while allowing to reach sub-arcsec LGS absolute pointing accuracy. This considerably reduces the LGS acquisition time and observations operation overheads. The LPC is a smart CCD camera, fed by a 150mm diameter aperture of a Maksutov telescope, mounted on the top ring of the VLT UT4, running Linux and acting as server for the client 4LGSF. The smart camera is able to recognize within few seconds the sky field using astrometric software, determining the stars and the LGS absolute positions. Upon request it returns the offsets to give to the LGS, to position them at the required sky coordinates. As byproduct goal, once calibrated the LPC can calculate upon request for each LGS, its return flux, its fwhm and the uplink beam scattering levels.
This article presents a proposal aimed at investigating the technical feasibility and the scientific capabilities of high
contrast cameras to be implemented at LBT. Such an instrument will fully exploit the unique LBT capabilities in
Adaptive Optics (AO) as demonstrated by the First Light Adaptive Optics (FLAO) system, which is obtaining excellent
results in terms of performance and reliability. The aim of this proposal is to show the scientific interest of such a
project, together with a conceptual opto-mechanical study which shows its technical feasibility, taking advantage of the
already existing AO systems, which are delivering the highest Strehl experienced in nowadays existing telescopes.
Two channels are foreseen for SHARK, a near infrared channel (2.5-0.9 um) and a visible one (0.9 – 0.6 um), both
providing imaging and coronagraphic modes. The visible channel is equipped with a very fast and low noise detector
running at 1.0 kfps and an IFU spectroscopic port to provide low and medium resolution spectra of 1.5 x 1.5 arcsec
The search of extra solar giant planets is the main science case and the driver for the technical choices of SHARK, but
leaving room for several other interesting scientific topics, which will be briefly depicted here.
By exploiting the high strehl ratio PSF (point spread function) provided by the large binocular telescope (LBT), a high
contrast visual camera working in the range 650-700 nm can deliver impressive results with the help of a simple
coronagraph. In the framework of a feasibility study of such instrument, numerical simulations have been conducted to
assess its performances in terms of contrast enhancement in real seeing conditions. Both simulated and recorded time
series of adaptive optics residual aberrations are in fact used to estimate the contrast enhancement achieved with this
imager in different seeing conditions and with different occulting masks. The results obtained are extremely promising
and provide useful information for the detection of reflected light of Jupiter-like planets orbiting nearby stars in the range
of 5÷10 pc.
The control software of the Large Binocular Telescope's (LBT) double prime focus cameras (LBC) has been in use for a decade: the software passed acceptance testing in April 2004 and is currently in routine use for science. LBC was the first light instrument of the telescope. Over the last decade of use, the control software has changed as operations with the telescope have evolved. The major updates to the LBC control software since 2004 are described, including details for the upgrade to a single control computer from the current five computer architecture.
MOONS is a new Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph selected by ESO as a third generation
instrument for the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The grasp of the large collecting area offered by the VLT (8.2m
diameter), combined with the large multiplex and wavelength coverage (optical to near-IR: 0.8μm - 1.8μm) of MOONS
will provide the European astronomical community with a powerful, unique instrument able to pioneer a wide range of
Galactic, Extragalactic and Cosmological studies and provide crucial follow-up for major facilities such as Gaia,
VISTA, Euclid and LSST. MOONS has the observational power needed to unveil galaxy formation and evolution over
the entire history of the Universe, from stars in our Milky Way, through the redshift desert, and up to the epoch of very
first galaxies and re-ionization of the Universe at redshift z>8-9, just few million years after the Big Bang. On a
timescale of 5 years of observations, MOONS will provide high quality spectra for >3M stars in our Galaxy and the
local group, and for 1-2M galaxies at z>1 (SDSS-like survey), promising to revolutionise our understanding of the
The baseline design consists of ~1000 fibers deployable over a field of view of ~500 square arcmin, the largest patrol
field offered by the Nasmyth focus at the VLT. The total wavelength coverage is 0.8μm-1.8μm and two resolution
modes: medium resolution and high resolution. In the medium resolution mode (R~4,000-6,000) the entire wavelength
range 0.8μm-1.8μm is observed simultaneously, while the high resolution mode covers simultaneously three selected
spectral regions: one around the CaII triplet (at R~8,000) to measure radial velocities, and two regions at R~20,000 one
in the J-band and one in the H-band, for detailed measurements of chemical abundances.
The possibility to open a near-IR window at stratospheric altitude is crucial for a large variety of astronomical issues,
from cosmology to the star formation processes. Up to now, one of the main issue is the role of the OH and thermal sky
emission that are rising the sky background level when such observations are performed through ground based
telescopes. We present the results of our technological activity aimed at affording some critical aspects typical of balloon
flights. In particular, the obtained performances of prototype systems for rough and fine tracking will be illustrated. Both
these systems constitute a high precision device (≤ 1 arcsec) for pointing and tracking light telescopes on board
stratospheric balloons. We give the details concerning the optical and mechanical layout, as well as the detector and the
control system. We demonstrate how such devices, when used at the focal plane of enough large telescopes(2-4m, F/10),
may be capable to provide diffraction limited images in the near infrared bands. We have also developed a prototypal
single channel photometer NISBA (Near Infrared Sky Background at Arctic pole), working in the H band (1.65 μm), able
to evaluate, during a high-latitude balloon flight, how OH emission affects the sky background during the arctic night.
The laboratory tests and performance on sky are presented and analyzed.
MOONS is a new conceptual design for a Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph for the Very Large
Telescope (VLT), selected by ESO for a Phase A study. The baseline design consists of ~1000 fibers deployable over a
field of view of ~500 square arcmin, the largest patrol field offered by the Nasmyth focus at the VLT. The total
wavelength coverage is 0.8μm-1.8μm and two resolution modes: medium resolution and high resolution. In the medium
resolution mode (R~4,000-6,000) the entire wavelength range 0.8μm-1.8μm is observed simultaneously, while the high
resolution mode covers simultaneously three selected spectral regions: one around the CaII triplet (at R~8,000) to
measure radial velocities, and two regions at R~20,000 one in the J-band and one in the H-band, for detailed
measurements of chemical abundances.
The grasp of the 8.2m Very Large Telescope (VLT) combined with the large multiplex and wavelength coverage of
MOONS – extending into the near-IR – will provide the observational power necessary to study galaxy formation and
evolution over the entire history of the Universe, from our Milky Way, through the redshift desert and up to the epoch
of re-ionization at z<8-9. At the same time, the high spectral resolution mode will allow astronomers to study chemical
abundances of stars in our Galaxy, in particular in the highly obscured regions of the Bulge, and provide the necessary
follow-up of the Gaia mission. Such characteristics and versatility make MOONS the long-awaited workhorse near-IR
MOS for the VLT, which will perfectly complement optical spectroscopy performed by FLAMES and VIMOS.
MOONS is a new conceptual design for a multi-object spectrograph for the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT)
which will provide the ESO astronomical community with a powerful, unique instrument able to serve a wide
range of Galactic, Extragalactic and Cosmological studies. The instrument foresees 1000 fibers which can be
positioned on a field of view of 500 square-arcmin. The sky-projected diameter of each fiber is at least 1 arcsec
and the wavelengths coverage extends from 0.8 to 1.8 μm.
This paper presents and discusses the design of the spectrometer, a task which is allocated to the Italian National
Institute of Astrophysics (INAF).
The baseline design consists of two identical cryogenic spectrographs. Each instrument collects the light from
over 500 fibers and feeds, through dichroics, 3 spectrometers covering the "I" (0.79-0.94 μm), "YJ" (0.94-1.35
μm) and "H" (1.45-1.81 μm) bands.
The low resolution mode provides a complete spectrum with a resolving power ranging from R'4,000 in the
YJ-band, to R'6,000 in the H-band and R'8,000 in the I-band. A higher resolution mode with R'20,000 is
also included. It simultaneously covers two selected spectral regions within the J and H bands.
Sodium laser guide stars (LGS) are used, or planned to be used, as single or multiple artificial beacons for Adaptive
Optics in many present or future large and extremely large telescopes projects.
In our opinion, several aspects of the LGS have not been studied systematically and thoroughly enough in the past to
ensure optimal system designs.
ESO has designed and built, with support from industry, an experimental transportable laser guide star unit, composed of
a compact laser based on the ESO narrow-band Raman Fiber Amplifier patented technology, attached to a 30cm launch
Besides field tests of the new laser technology, the purpose of the transportable unit is to conduct field experiments
related to LGS and LGS-AO, useful for the optimization of future LGS-AO systems. Among the proposed ones are the
validation of ESO LGS return flux simulations as a function of CW and pulsed laser properties, the feasibility of line-of-sight
sodium profile measurements via partial CW laser modulation and tests of AO operation with elongated LGS in the
EELT geometry configuration.
After a description of the WLGSU and its main capabilities, results on the WLGSU commissioning and LGS return flux
measurements are presented.
LINC-NIRVANA is the IR Fizeau interferometric imager that will be installed within a couple of years on the Large
Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona. Here we present a particular sub-system, the so-called Patrol Camera (PC),
which has been now completed, along with the results of the laboratory tests. It images (in the range 600-900 nm) the
same 2 arcmin FoV seen by the Medium-High Wavefront Sensor (MHWS), adequately sampled to provide the MHWS
star enlargers with the positions of the FoV stars with an accuracy of 0.1 arcsec. To this aim a diffraction-limited
performance is not required, while a distortion free focal plane is needed to provide a suitable astrometric output. Two
identical systems have been realized, one for each single arm, which corresponds to each single telescope. We give here
the details concerning the optical and mechanical layout, as well as the CCD and the control system. The interfaces (mainly software procedures) with LINC-NIRVANA (L-N) are also presented.