Pre-ship review

The MagAO project hosted our Pre-Ship Review (PSR) last week at Arcetri Observatory in Florence.  The purpose of this review was to ensure that lab work on the AO system is complete and that MagAO is ready to move to the telescope for on-sky commissioning.

Six external reviewers (4 in person and 2 by videocon) gave us their time and attention for 2 days in real time, as well as studying up beforehand and writing a report after the fact.  The scope of their expertise covered subjects from large telescopes, commissioning AO systems, instrument development, logistical implementation, real-time software, and adaptive secondaries.

The review lasted 2 days and included presentations, discussions, and a demonstration of the AO system in the tower, controlled from the chem. lab.  Topics included a description of the Magellan telescope, an overview of the MagAO project and instrument, the scientific justification, detailed technical descriptions of all subsystems, logistical considerations, and our plans for commissioning.  The reviewers considered everything in detail and gave us a report in the format of Findings, Comments, and Recommendations.

The review went very well — the reviewers were extremely thorough and helpful.  They included three requirements and four recommendations, as well as findings and comments.  We are working to address the requirements identified by the panel, before we ship to Chile.  Two have been addressed already this week, and the third is waiting for next week.

Here are some photos from the review:

The PSR Panel In The Tower
The PSR panel visiting the solar tower lab during the review. The large black ring hanging from the ceiling, which we call 'The Nas', contains our wavefront sensor and the VisAO science camera. Below that are our electronics racks, which will actually mount on the side of The Nas at the telescope.
Visiting Galileo's House
The MagAO PSR had lunch at Galileo's house. Galileo once walked this very balcony. This is our "album cover" shot.
Happy  AO Operator
A happy AO operator is a good AO operator. Katie Morzinski, MagAO's newest team member, operated the AO system for the PSR panel. On her screens you can see the 4 pyramid sensor pupils, the SDSS i' PSF, and a glimpse of our mirror status displays. In the background you can also catch a glimpse of the VisAO camera in action.
Alfio Puglisi explains some of the finer points of AO with pyramid sensors and adaptive secondaries, while Katie Morzinski and Jared Males concentrate on the loop.
At the after party in the MagAO home-away-from-home at Via Romana 89. The entire team celebrated a successful moment in the project after many years of 'blood sweat and tears'.
The MagAO PSR team celebrates the end of an intense 2 weeks. Speakers provided by Enrico "How many Watts RMS?" Pinna and music provided by Katie "Girl Bands" Morzinski.
The PI holds forth - toasting a job well done by the entire team. A beam of light descends down on him to mark the occasion.
The MagAO team, Magellan telescope experts, and Pre-Ship Review panel on the balcony at Galileo's house, inspired by a place where Galileo pointed his telescope to the heavens. Back row: Povilas Palunas, Al Conrad, Doug Miller, Jared Males, Ian Bryson, Marco Xompero, Runa Briguglio. Front row: Alfio Puglisi, Katie Morzinski, Simone Esposito, Carmelo Arcidiacono, Laird Close, Mark Chun

The Trek To The Top

Laird and Katie on the walk to Arcetri
Laird and Katie on the walk to Arcetri, with the only snow we've found in Florence.

Due to the always too short amount of time we get to spend with our instrument here, we work some long hours. Late at night and on weekends the front gate to Arcetri is closed, so we have to go around the back way. It is actually a nice walk, and we discovered the last remaining snow in Florence. In the picture you can see the top of the Solar Tower, where our adaptive secondary mirror is mounted. It is performing very well, and we are putting the last touches on the amazing automation that was developed here at Arcetri.

Back In Florence

The MagAO team (or at least part of it) has returned to Florence for another round of integration and testing. I (Jared) have been here for 2 weeks, and Laird and Derek just arrived. As soon as I arrived we successfully closed the loop again, with only minimal adjustments of the alignment using the X-Y-Z stages. The system came right back up, with less than 5 minutes of work, after 3 months of down time.

A raw CCD47 image in closed loop, with only about 5 minutes of start up work after 3 months of down time. The core is saturated, and since this is a single image with no reduction there is some pattern noise visible.

The last two weeks have been mostly uneventful, consisting of a lot of software development and debugging. In preparation for the next 2 weeks of work on the ASM and the CRO tests we removed the NAS from the tower on Friday. The two videos below show the process of lowering, and then tilting the NAS upright on its handling cart.

While the NAS is off the tower we will be fine tuning the WFS and VisAO camera alignment, as well as testing the AO to Magellan software interface. In about two weeks we’ll reverse the process, and mount everything back in the tower for some more exciting closed loop action.

Filter Update

I have updated our VisAO filter curves to now include the effects of 3 reflections from Aluminum mirrors (important because Al has a feature at 0.8 microns), the Clio dichroic, the AR coated surfaces of the VisAO Optics, and the protected silver gimbal mirror in the VisAO camera. Most of these are small losses, but 3 Al reflections are fairly costly at only ~90% reflectance each. I have also convolved the resultant curves with the HST/STIS Vega spectrum to give the approximate photon flux in each filter from a 0 magnitude star. The only major thing not included in these calculations is the reflectance of the beam splitter, since it will vary depending on AO system setup.

The VisAO Camera filter curves
The VisAO Camera filter curves.

MagAO goes to ABOR

Last week Laird and I had the pleasure of attending the Arizona Board of Regents meeting in Phoenix, and presenting a poster about the Magellan AO system and the VisAO camera. The session we were invited to was on the impact of scientific research on student’s education at Arizona’s universities. Click the image below to download the poster as a pdf. It contains an introduction to AO in general and visible AO in particular, as well as an overview of the MagAO project. We also took the opportunity to show off some of our exciting results from the test tower in Florence.

Click to download a pdf