UnISIS: A Laser Guided Adaptive Optics System for the Mt. Wilson 2.5-m Telescope

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Session 42 -- High-Spatial Resolution
Display presentation, Tuesday, 10, 1995, 9:20am - 6:30pm

[42.02] UnISIS: A Laser Guided Adaptive Optics System for the Mt. Wilson 2.5-m Telescope

L.A.Thompson, P.R.McCullough, R.M.Castle, C.R.Neyman, D.W. Bullok, D.L. Goscha (Univ. Ill.), Y-H Xiong (Yunnan Obs.)

An adaptive optics system called UnISIS is being assembled for use at the Coud\'e focus of the Mt. Wilson 2.5-m telescope with the aim of testing forefront concepts in the rapidly developing fields of laser guide star and adaptive optics research. Components of UnISIS currently being developed or tested include: an excimer laser (351nm/300Hz/50W) which will be used to produce, initially, a single Rayleigh laser guide star focused 18 km above the telescope; a 13x13 segmented mirror (built by ThermoTrex Corp. and on loan from USAF Phillips Lab.) to provide 265 degrees of freedom in the wave front; a turbulence generator for system testing; and a 64x64 CCD camera to be used near the final focal plane to provide tip-tilt and other low-order wave front information from a faint natural star. These components will be the first to be installed at the 2.5-m telescope Coud\'e focus in the summer of 1995 for initial testing with a re-imaging optical system (H. Richardson, DAO) which will be capable of accepting two adaptive mirrors: one conjugate to the telescope primary mirror and the second conjugate to an atmospheric layer 4 km above the telescope. The UnISIS wave front reconstructor design is in progress. Both an optical CCD and a near-IR NICMOS-3 array camera (M. Meixner, Univ. Ill.) will provide simultaneous imaging over a less than 1 arcmin field of view. Access to UnISIS for either astronomical observations or technical experiments will be provided to the astronomical community as the system comes into operation. We look forward to exchanging preliminary information with potentially interested observational astronomers. The five-year UnISIS experiment is funded by NSF (AST 92-20504).

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