AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 48 Visible-Light Telescopes, Instruments, and Technology
Poster, Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[48.06] SAM, a ground-layer adaptive optics

S. J. Thomas (CTIO)

SOAR, located on Cerro Pachon in Chile, is a recently completed 4.1m telescope, dedicated to high angular resolution. To complement the other two larger telescopes, Gemini on Cerro Pachon and the Blanco telescope on Cerro Tololo, SOAR's niche is high resolution, imaging in the visible and spectroscopy, which calls for the development of an adaptive optics (AO) module. This instrument, called SAM, will provide improved seeing over a wide field of 2-3 arcmin, for visible wavelengths. To acheive those performances, a Rayleigh laser guide star is used to sense and correct low turbulence altitude. In this paper, I briefly show which kind of science can be carried out with this type of AO and compare its performance with other ground-based and space-based telescopes. Then, the ground layer compensation principle and its application for Pachon atmospheric conditions are presented. Briefly, most of the nights, the perturbations are located close to the ground; thus a partial correction of the first kilometer of the atmosphere will be efficient to improve the seeing significantly (by a factor of 2 or more). Finally, technical details on the instrument itself, including the deformable mirror, the wavefront sensor, the laser and the turbulence simulator, are presented.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 5
© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.