MagAO-X 2020A Stay At Home Day 29: AO for Exoplanets

In the days of MagAO-Classic, I would write daily blog posts 3-5 times per week. By the time we got to Day 29 in the run I would be so exhausted I was grateful for anyone to write blog posts. Now the tables have turned and here I am, belatedly showing up on the blog after a month on the mountain at home!

Photo from today on Day 29 of the Classical MagAO run. Here I am at the Clay telescope at LCO on a brilliantly sunny day, supervising the ASM being driven up on the Isuzu truck. (Or maybe being driven down.) I have lured one of the local fuzzy fauna for some snuggles. Looks like I found an Andean Cat. Yes, all is fine here at MagAO-Classic. [Image Description: A woman in glasses holds a cute cat, both lit up by interior light. The background shows a sunlit Chilean mountain scene. Magic of Zoom backgrounds.]

OK so what have I actually been working on? Well, the above picture is actually relevant.

Adaptive Optics (AO) for Exoplanets can be done in various different ways. One difference is the type of Deformable Mirror (DM) you use to control the wavefront. You can use an Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM) for better sensitivity to planets that are brighter in infrared (heat) wavelengths. Or you can use a Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) for better sensitivity to planets that are reflecting the light of their stars (like our Moon reflects our Sun).

MagAO-Classic uses an ASM, and while it has been successful with both infrared planets with Clio and visible-light planets with VisAO, its sensitivity was limited in the visible. Therefore MagAO-eXtreme uses a MEMS, for more precise wavefront control that allows for better sensitivity to reflected-light planets.

I have worked with both MEMS and ASM DMs. In ancient times (pre-Classical) I characterized many iterations of MEMS DMs for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), including holding the positions and monitoring what they do over time:

Stability plot of the displacement (measured with a 100-pm-accuracy interferometer) of all the actuators on MEMS device number W10#X in the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics at UCSC. Perfect actuators would be a flat horizontal line in this plot. [Image description: A line plot of actuator displacement in nanometers phase (aka. nm wavefront, rather than nm surface) vs time step since beginning the experiment. Each actuator has its own line, although only a few are called out in color. Most of the actuators were around 0 displacement. A few actuators started out too low. Over several minutes, a few actuators drifted to lower positions, which they are not supposed to do.]

MagAO-X has a similar but more modern MEMS, and my expertise has come in handy. Now in the post-classical world I’m PI of the “MAPS” instrument (MMT AO exoPlanet characterization System). MAPS is using an ASM that we are building ourselves at Arizona. We are in the lab-testing phase and Amali Vaz (click to read her award-winning blog posts) is running similar tests of actuator stability on the MAPS ASM:

Stability plot of the counts measured at the capacitive sensors vs time. The initial jump is a command by the AO operator. A perfect actuator in this plot would be exactly horizontal after that point. [Image description: A line plot of actuator position measurememnt from the capacitive sensor (capsens) vs. time in seconds. Amali has added a small offset to each actuator to shift them vertically on the plot so that they can be distinguished. Most of the actuators are fairly flat, but a few drift slightly lower over time. This is preliminary work and was done with almost no gap and with the thicker test shell, so this is not concerning at this point. Just interesting to start to do these kinds of tests, and to compare to the MEMS.]

The MAPS ASM project was initially led by the original MagAO-C/Clio PI, Phil Hinz. He has moved to a new job to lead the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics (where the above MEMS work was done) and I am now PI of both MAPS and Clio. So this project has been a way back into DM and actuator characterization. Let’s look at some more pictures.

At the start of stay-at-home, we were still able to go into the lab with a whole group of people. Here are 4 people mounting the thin shell on the reference body of the MAPS ASM. From left to right: Grant West, Oli Durney, Manny Montoya, Emily Mailhot. Oli and Manny are eyeballing the gap, and checking whether the clocking is correct. Grant is keeping an eye on the scale, to detect when the magnets start to lift the shell. Emily is controlling the actuator coil currents, and keeping an eye on the shell. [Image description: In a clean room, 4 people are wearing lab coats, gloves, hair nets, and face masks. An optomechanical structure in the center is the MAPS ASM, looking down as if the telescope is parked at zenith and the primary mirror is below. The thin shell of glass rests on a cart with a scale on a lift, and is being slowly raised until contact with the reference body. The reference body is a clear-ish thick glass circle. Above it is the cold plate, similar thickness and copper-colored but aluminum. The actuators are clamped to the cold plate and their cables are black and run up above the cold plate. The electronics consist of 6 daughterboards and 1 motherboard and are at the top of the unit. The four people are focused intently on the work they are doing to mount the thin shell onto the reference body. Once mounted, the thin shell + reference body + cold plate + actuators + actuator cables + electronics = ASM.]
Now that we have come under more strict stay-at-home orders, we are operating the ASM remotely. Here is a Zoom grab from today when Amali was filling Phil in on what she had been measuring and learning. [Image description: A screen grab of a Zoom meeting where the main focus is the web gui being run on Manny’s computer. The web gui has two ASM maps, the one on the left shows the position as measured by the capsens, while the one on the right shows the coil currents as commanded by the AO operator.]

The song of the day is a Classic (that can be pushed to the eXtreme) that I first learned in high school band, Malagueña. I present a study of some of my favorite versions. First the Drum & Bugle Core version, representing ancient history:

Then the classical guitar version, a Classic:

Finally, a special treat, Fuego Malagueña by Esteban featuring Teresa Joy, is the eXtreme version:

MagAO-C 2019B Day 13: TUS home

MagAO-Classic has landed in TUS. This is the last MagAO-C 2019B post.

Here we are at the baggage claim in Tucson. We all made it and so did our bags! [Image description: Katie, Amali, Emily, and Laird are all smiling at the camera, we look happy to be reunited with Tucson and our luggage.]

And I am currently surrounded by cats, who are much better snugglers than vizcachas.

Spot the vizcacha.

Spot the vizcacha. [Image description a brown bunny-looking thing hidden on a brown hillside with some brown rocks and brown grasses and brown scraggly bushes in the reddish glow of sunset on my last night.]

On the day we left I checked that everything was safely stowed.

Clio and the NAS safely stored in the Aux. [Image description: A round black metal circle covers the NAS with its electronic boxes sticking out above like Mickey Mouse ears. Clio sits on its cart, with its electronics rack beside. Very important MagAO tools are also stored here.]

Amali said goodbye to her rock garden.

Amali with the rocks. [Image description: Amali is crouched down to put the finishing touches on an orderly arrangement of ~inch-sized rocks varying in color from black to orangey-red, next to the sidewalk by her room.]

We headed down the hill at 8:30am Chile time and got home to Tucson around 11am MST for a total of about 31 hours travel time.

Roadside shrine [Image description: A tiny house with a saint inside, and a cross and 2 Chilean flags outside. Along the road, with desert-y-looking brown/dry landscape and some hills in the background.]

The flowers were blooming at El Pino and the new dorms for our mid-day rest were really very lovely and extremely comfortable:

We saw Tyson in LSC and heard he had a nice stay at Hotel Enjoy. He was on the same SCL-DFW flight and was nice enough to get me into the club in SCL and Laird in DFW. It was nice seeing you Tyson, hope you made it home safely too!

Overall this was a good run, I think Emily did a great job learning MagAO and Amali did great working with her and refreshing her memory on the LBTI compare/contrast differences.

Jared, Amali, and Emily work to set up for the last night in the Clay control room. (Amali is there, you can find her.) [Image description: Clay control room, with walls of monitors, and AOistas sitting at desks and computers, working away.]
Jared giving Amali and Emily a tour of MagAO-X. [Image description: Everyone is wearing clean-room coats and hairnets; Jared is also wearing a face and beard mask. Jared is pointing at the back of the optics doll house while Amali and Emily look on.]
Good bye Clay and LCO, you did a great job! [Image description: The Izuzu that takes the ASM down the hill to the clean room is parked at the Clay telescope awaiting its cargo.]

The song of the day: Taylor Swift’s Perfect Fight Song by Andy Wu Musicland featuring Pink, Ellie Goulding, and Rachel Platten:

MagAO-C Day 11: Clay to clean room

Last night went great. Now today MagAO-Classic has been removed from Clay to the Aux and the clean room. Night schedules are switching to day schedules. It was a 3-viscacha day at the clean room and many NSF proposals have been worked on, and SPIE abstracts have been drafted and submitted to the extend possible.

Sunset called for some frisbee. [Image description: In the pink glow of sunset, a pink PI throws a flying disk towards the photographer. The Baade dome is basked in a warm sunsetting glow, and the mountains are shown in high relief]
Vizzy and a local bird at sunset, one basking up the sun, one sheltering in shadow. [Image description: A vizcacha in the light, a bird in a shadow, sitting on some rocks and masonry structure.]
Here’s a fox from last week. No reason. [Image description: A fox on the road by the dining hall.]

Now it’s time for more proposaling and some packing too, so I leave you with the MagAO-Classic song of the day: Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)

MagAO-C 2019B Day 10: Last Closed Loop

Tonight was our last night on-sky with MagAO-Classic in 2019B. It was my telescope night, and Amali ran AO after Emily went to bed around midnight. Tomorrow’s the big day for removing MagAO-C from the telescope, so we always do these staggered bedtimes. It’s nice to have Amali and Emily here to help with removal.

Emily, Amali, Jared, and Katie enjoying the last catwalk sunset of MagAO-C 2019B. [Image description: 4 AOistas smile in the soft light of sunset.]

Alberto stayed an extra night with the rest of his turno, so this is the first time we’ve had him as our TO for the entire run. Thanks Alberto, you are a superlative telescope operator! Here are Alberto, Amali, and myself enjoying a quiet night of photon-gathering.

Katie, Alberto, and Amali in the Clay control room. [Image description: A Clio/VisAO operator, a telescope operator, and an AO operator sit in chairs and examine electronic screens, in a control room filled with screens.]
It was a 2-vizcacha day at the clean room this afternoon! Here is a close-up of Vizzy 1 in a cute pose. [Image description: A vizcacha sits up on its hindquarters, on a rafter beam, with its fuzzy tail hanging down. Its ears are back and its paws are held out in front of it.]

The song of the day is Gangnam Style by Psy:

MagAO-C 2019B Day 9: Amali wins the blog (again)

Amali’s blog post about the saga of the Alpaca was another creative expository piece that tonight we had a ceremony to award her the 2019B MagAO-C blog award:

Jared gives the citation and Amali graciously accepts the award [Image description: Amali and Jared stand on the Clay catwalk with the setting sun behind them. Amali is holding a metal item.]
Here is the blog award close-up. [Image description: The metal item turns out to be a failed hard drive from the adsec supervisor computer, the very computer that Alpaca was impersonating in IP address. Writing on the harddrive in black sharpie in Jared’s handwriting says “adsecsup / Failed, replaced / 11/15/15”. The harddrive has been decorated with the 2019B Mission Patch sticker, and labeled “MagAO 2019B Blog Award / Awarded to Amali Vaz / 2019/11/11 [not shown]”.]

Tomorrow there will be a general strike throughout much of Chile. The turno (shift changeover) that was supposed to happen will be postponed until Wednesday. That means those who hoped to go home tomorrow must stay 1 more day. We wish our colleagues all the best — they are all extremely professional and we truly appreciate working with them here.

The MagAO-C and MagAO-X teams and observer: Emily, Katie, Laird, Kyle, Jared, Amali, Joseph, Alex (v. 2.0), and Blake. [Image description: A group of AOistas stand on the Clay catwalk in front of the setting sun]. Photo by Alberto Pasten.
Blake didn’t get to do his targets to the North because of the wind. Also, the seeing got pretty non-LCO-ish at the end of the night, with a couple spikes above 1.5”. [Image description: Screen grab of the LCO weather plot showing seeing, temperature, wind, and pressure vs. time.]
Moon set at dawn. [Image description: Foreground: A ridge with telescopes. Background: Purple mountains majesty. Sky: Band of Venus, orange of dawn, and Full moon setting.]

The song of the day is Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey I Love You — a classic from MagAO 2015B: