Getting Ready

We have settled on dates for our upcoming “NAS Fitcheck” run. We’ll be back at LCO for the last 2 weeks of August, and during the last few days we plan to bolt the NAS on the telescope and test as many things as possible.

Jason and I are working on assembling and testing a new cooling system for the W-Unit here at the Mirror Lab, and plan to have it ready to be installed with the NAS next month.

Jason Lewis stands next to our new cooling system's tank and pump.

MagAO Does Amsterdam

Several members of the MagAO team are in Amsterdam for the SPIE astronomy conference. In addition to presenting several posters and giving some talks, we are also conducting the Clio2 pre-ship review on Wednesday. A busy week.

The Amsterdam RAI conference center is hosting us. The first person to stop by Jared's poster on Monday night and say the word Vizcacha wins a prize.

Final Status of “Unpacking Run”

After 17 days here at LCO Jared and I are heading down today. Overall the “unpacking run” was a success.

1) Secondary Mirror (ASM)
with the leadership of Armando and Marco (Arcetri) with Mario and Frederico (Microgate), and Rich (Arizona) we unpacked, flipped, cleaned, clocked, and installed the shell on the ASM. Victor (Arizona) prepared a special wedged interface plate that exactly positioned the ASM on the mount in the correct X, Y, Z, and ThetaX, ThetaY to match the optical axis of Magellan (thanks to Tyson and Juan for help with the final adjustments to this complex interface plate). The TSS shell safety system was (for the first time) made fully operational. The ASM was fully characterized with the windscreen on. All ASM tests and calibrations were redone and the ASM is perfect working condition.


/uncategorized/asm-performancesverification/  for summary details and plots.

Victor (Arizona) “whipped up” a novel cooling system (and NAS bulkhead) for the ASM that worked well — but needed up to 10 bottles of ice each day — thanks to all the staff that helped us get ice each day…

2) Active Optics Guider
Also from Carnegie Tyson and Alan (with lots of help from Povilas, Juan, and the excellent technical support from the rest of the LCO and Magellan Staff) were able to install and successfully test the active optics guider on the ASM.



for a movie of the guider moving from the center of the field to its “off” position as it hands off the guide star to AO.

3) Pyramid Wavefront Sensor (PWFS)
Jared (Arizona) and Laird worked hard at aligning the PWFS optics, testing, and final cabling of the PWFS. For the first time the whole system was tested with all the electronic racks (and their internal fans) mounted on the NAS with the PWFS. The vibration damping system of Tyson seemed to work well –as there were no vibrations from the fans seen by the PWFS (or VisAO CCD). This is a big relief. All the PWFS optics were aligned as well as they were during PSR in Italy (they were also given a much needed cleaning). Also we can now reach our goal 4.3 electrons of read noise in our most sensitive CCD39 mode (with all components powered). There doesn’t seem to be any addition noise from any of the other components or motors. This is also a big relief.

4) Visible light science camera (VisAO)
Jared worked hard on the VisAO camera and computer. The one disappointment of the run was that the motherboard of the VisAO computer was likely damaged while mounting it on the NAS (for the second time). Perhaps even more annoying was that Jared’s spare motherboard also failed! However, Magellan kindly let Jared borrow a spare computer and he was able (in a day) to have the whole system up and running again on a rebuilt computer! The VisAO camera had some work done it as well. We installed a new gimbal mirror, Derek’s new ND3.22 in the coronagraph wheel, and cleaned and tightened up the optics. Derek’s new baffle tubes were also installed. Also we installed a new “off-sky” fiber laser alignment system that works quite well. Overall, we made the sharpest images yet with the VisAO camera (0.02 arcsec) and we are ready for commissioning in November. Also the noise and sensitivity were nominal for the CCD47 as well.

for some final images of the ASM and VisAO in its coronographic mode

5) Communications with the Telescope
Jared and Glenn (Magellan) worked on making sure the AO system’s AOI software could talk to the Telescope’s M1, vane ends, and mount (for offloading Astigmatism, coma, focus, and Tip-tilt). Good progress was made on that front.

The success of this run required the help and cooperation of a great many people. Despite transporting 17 boxes halfway around the world not one item was damaged by the trip! This is testament to the excellent handling and packing of the items — many people helped in this, I’d like to especially thank Roberto, Dave, and Povilas (LCO), Edilia (CTIO), Earl (OCIW), Ganni (Fiorino shipping), and Runa, Carmelo, Armando, Marco (Arcetri) for a great (and surprisingly complex) shipping job! Also I’d to thank Dave, Miguel, Mark, Povilas and the whole LCO crew for being so incredibly helpful and responsive throughout this whole period.

Things are looking good for first light in November.

thanks Laird

PS — I’d also like to thank Jared and Marco for keeping this blog up to date and so interesting for the whole run!

Unpacking Day 16: The Vizcacha At Last

We said goodbye to Armando and Marco this morning. Thanks for the hard work guys. See you in November.

After they left, Laird and Jared spent the rest of the day covering optics, organizing the cleanroom, backing up disk drives, and generally getting everything presentable. Not quite the way we found it, but presentable. We’re heading down to La Serena on the 1130 transport tomorrow.

I know you’re just here for the animals, so here you go:

On my way to bed last night I suddenly found myself in the middle of the horse herd. This was the best photo I could get by moonlight.
The herd was just outside the ASB this morning. As we were walking down for lunch this one took off after his buddies.
Once he caught up there was some rough housing.

The big accomplishment of the day was finally catching our own glimpse of the famous vizcacha who lives over our clean room.

The cleanroom vizcacha soaking up some sun.
He or she kept a close eye on us. Quite a glare actually. Click for full resolution.

Today’s quotes:

“I could really go for a beer.” (Laird Close)

“Yeah.” (Jared Males)

Next time, this is where we work.