MANIFEST is a multi-object fibre facility for the Giant Magellan Telescope that uses ‘Starbug’ robots to accurately position fibre units across the telescope’s focal plane. MANIFEST, when coupled to the telescope’s planned seeinglimited instruments, offers access to larger fields of view; higher multiplex gains; versatile focal plane reformatting of the focal plane via integral-field-units; image-slicers; and in some cases higher spatial and spectral resolution. The TAIPAN instrument on the UK Schmidt Telescope is now close to science verification which will demonstrate the feasibility of the Starbug concept. We are now moving into the conceptual development phase for MANIFEST, with a focus on developing interfaces for the telescope and for the instruments.
The IUCAA digital sampling array controller (IDSAC) is a flexible and generic yet powerful CCD controller that can handle a wide range of scientific detectors. Based on an easily scalable modular backplane architecture consisting of single board controllers (SBC), IDSAC can control large detector arrays and mosaics. Each of the SBCs offers the full functionality required to control a CCD independently. The SBCs can be cold swapped without the need to reconfigure them. IDSAC is also available in a backplane-less architecture. Each SBC can handle data from up to four video channels with or without dummy outputs at speeds up to 500-kilo pixels per second (kPPS) per channel with a resolution of 16 bits. Communication with a Linux-based host computer is through a USB3.0 interface, with the option of using copper or optical fibers. A field programmable gate array (FPGA) is used as the master controller in each SBC, which allows great flexibility in optimizing performance by adjusting gain, timing signals, bias levels, etc., using user-editable configuration files without altering the circuit topology. Elimination of thermal kTC noise is achieved via digital correlated double sampling (DCDS). The number of digital samples per pixel (for both reset and signal levels) is user configurable. We present the results of noise performance characterization of IDSAC through simulation, theoretical modeling, and actual measurements. The contribution of different types of noise sources is modeled using a tool to predict noise of a generic DCDS signal chain analytically. The analytical model predicts the net input referenced noise of the signal chain to be 5 electrons for 200-k pixels/s per channel readout rate with three samples per pixel. Using a cryogenic test setup in the lab, the noise is measured to be 5.4 e (24.3 μV), for the same readout configuration. With a better-optimized configuration of 500-kPPS readout rate, the measured noise is down to 3.8 electrons RMS (17 μV), with three samples per interval.
A new field re-configuration technique, Multiple Rooks of Chess, for multiple deployable Integral Field Spectrographs has been developed. The method involves a mechanical geometry as well as an optimized deployment algorithm. The geometry is found to be simple for mechanical implementation. The algorithm initially assigns the IFUs to the target objects and then devises the movement sequence based on the current and the desired IFU positions. The reconfiguration time using the suitable actuators which runs at 20 cm/s is found to be a maximum of 25 seconds for the circular DOTIFS focal plane (180 mm diameter). It is similar to some of the fastest schemes currently available. The Geometry Algorithm Combination (GAC) has been tested on several million mock target configurations with object-to-IFU ( τ ) ratio varying from 0.25 to 16. The configuration had both contiguous and sparse distribution of targets. The MRC method is found to be extremely efficient in target acquisition in terms of field revisit and deployment time without any collision or entanglement of the fiber bundles. The efficiency of the technique does not get affected by the increase of number density of target objects. For field with τ >1 prioritization of target objects is an optional feature and not necessary. The GAC can be modified for an instrument with higher or lower number of IFUs and different field size without any significant change in the flow. The technique is compared with other available methods based on sky coverage, flexibility and overhead time. The proposed geometry and algorithm combination is found to have advantage in all of the aspects.
Devasthal Optical Telescope Integral Field Spectrograph (DOTIFS) is a new multi-Integral Field Unit (IFU) instrument, planned to be mounted on the 3.6m Devasthal optical telescope in Nainital, India. It has eight identical, fiber-fed spectrographs to disperse light coming from 16 IFUs. The spectrographs produce 2,304 spectra over a 370-740nm wavelength range simultaneously with a spectral resolution of R=1200-2400. It is composed of all-refractive, allspherical optics designed to achieve on average 26.0% throughput from the telescope to the CCD with the help of high transmission spectrograph optics, volume phase holographic grating, and graded coated e2v 2K by 4K CCD. We present the optical and opto-mechanical design of the spectrograph as well as current development status. Optics and optomechanical components for the spectrographs are being fabricated.
The Australian Astronomical Observatory's TAIPAN instrument deploys 150 Starbug robots to position optical fibres to accuracies of 0.3 arcsec, on a 32 cm glass field plate on the focal plane of the 1.2 m UK-Schmidt telescope. This paper describes the software system developed to control and monitor the Starbugs, with particular emphasis on the automated path-finding algorithms, and the metrology software which keeps track of the position and motion of individual Starbugs as they independently move in a crowded field. The software employs a tiered approach to find a collision-free path for every Starbug, from its current position to its target location. This consists of three path-finding stages of increasing complexity and computational cost. For each Starbug a path is attempted using a simple method. If unsuccessful, subsequently more complex (and expensive) methods are tried until a valid path is found or the target is flagged as unreachable.
Starbugs are miniaturised robotic devices that position optical fibres over a telescope’s focal plane in parallel operation
for high multiplex spectroscopic surveys. The key advantage of the Starbug positioning system is its potential to
configure fields of hundreds of targets in a few minutes, consistent with typical detector readout times. Starbugs have
been selected as the positioning technology for the TAIPAN (Transforming Astronomical Imaging surveys through
Polychromatic Analysis of Nebulae) instrument, a prototype for MANIFEST (Many Instrument Fiber System) on the
GMT (Giant Magellan Telescope). TAIPAN consists of a 150-fibre Starbug positioner accessing the 6 degree field-ofview
of the AAO’s UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. For TAIPAN, it is important to optimise the
target allocation and routing algorithms to provide the fastest configurations times. We present details of the algorithms
and results of the simulated performance.