MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 5: Airy Disks

Today we got our first proper airy disk at LCO!

This morning, Laird and Alex rotated the K-mirror to a more optimal position and re-aligned the rest of the optical train. I switched out a board in an ALPAO driver to one that lets us power the NCPC (non-common-path-corrector) DM remotely, which saves us many hypothetical trips to and from the Nasmyth platform. Jared did…well, a lot of everything.

One tool that has proven useful in the alignment process is an “F”- and “X”-shaped pattern on the 2K deformable mirror (previously featured here), which we can view in high resolution on our LOWFS (low-order wavefront sensing) camera.

After Alex and Laird were happy with the alignment, I drove out (most of?) the remaining system aberrations with the “eye doctor” script, which attempts to find the combination of Zernike modes on the deformable mirrors that maximizes our Strehl.

Reinforcements in the form of Joseph Long arrived this afternoon, although fumigation delayed his luggage in Santiago and left him (temporarily, we hope) dispossessed of his worldly goods (and a few supplies for MagAO-X). The MagAO-C team joined us after dinner for a tour of MagAO-X.

After the tour completed and the crowds dispersed, Alex and Laird reinstalled the panels, shielding the instrument from prying eyes (and unwanted particles—of both the massive and massless variety). Jared installed the blower (the large white tube entering the instrument table from the left) to supply the optics with a soothing breeze.

After spying a guanaco in the far distance earlier in the week, I finally encountered two up close yesterday. They were surprisingly…pungent.

A guanaco who may be Gary. Yes, I recorded vertically.
The guanacos survey their domain.

As always, we stopped to watch the sunset.

Another beautiful LCO sunset, another disappointing lack of green flashes

For the song of the day, I present “Stairway to the Stars” by the Queen of Jazz herself, Ella Fitzgerald.

MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 4: Survival

MagAO-X is alive! After being boxed up, shipped from Tucson to Phoenix to LA (we think — a little fuzzy) to Miami, with a long pause, then to Santiago, braving the dangers of revolution (and customs (and customs strikes!)), and a trip by truck (always touchy, this time with road blocks!), and finally being craned out of its box and carefully reconstituted, we can still close the loop.

Needless to say we are happy, a little bit relieved, and excited to get our new instrument on the Magellan Clay Telescope.

Of course, it doesn’t always go exactly as planned. As the Captain said, “It never goes smooth. How come it never goes smooth?”

A clear example of this phenomenon is when we had to roll our electronics rack out of the clean room so Nelson and Emilio could cut off a stripped 3/8-16 bolt. The Aluminium L-bracket you see there is part of the earthquake restraint system, which, as Amali pointed out last night, is always a thing here.

A pano of the cleanroom when we were just getting started this morning. That’s Kyle checking on the DM humidity before turning it on.

So here’s the big moment when we finally knew that we didn’t f it all up:

And here you can see our vAPP coronagraphs looking good in a deep exposure:

vAPPs looking eXtreme. Laird wants you to know that there are no optical ghosts in the dark hole. Maybe the eye doctor has a little work to do though.

Moonrise over the Andes on my hike up.

Laird and Alex watching tonight’s sunset. Photo by Kyle, I’d already given up — obvious non-green-flash night. That’s our electronics shipping crate, btw.

Tonight’s song is “Wanted Dead or Alive”, by Bon Jovi:

MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 3: Cabling

Well it was another long but successful day for MagAO-X. We fully integrated the electronics rack with the instrument and began the optical alignment! Impressively, the optical alignment looked almost exactly the way we left it in Tucson. After all that MagAO-X has been through on its way to Chile, we were worried that the inside of MagAO-X would be a mess. However this was not the case, and we were more than pleased by it. We are confident that we will complete the realignment tomorrow and close the loop!

We started the day with our walk up to the “halfway house” at 9:00 am. In the picture below, you can see Jared joined by a friendly goat. Then there’s Kyle catching up, and me not far behind taking the picture.

A typical walk up the hill at Las Campanas Observatory

After some final glycol testing, we started cabling the system. The cables run from the instrument to the electronics rack to power all of our electronics (deformable mirrors, cameras, stages, actuators, etc.).

We completed all of the cabling except for our “Tweeter” deformable mirror (DM), so Laird and I were able to start on the optical alignment.

Laird working on the optical alignment
Looking good!

Here’s a picture of me with the instrument (front view):

Me and MagAO-X from the front

Here’s a picture of Laird with the instrument (back view). From this point of view it sort of looks like a “dollhouse” of optics. That makes it sound a lot simpler than it looks!

Laird and MagAO-X from the back

Finally, we began cabling the 2,048 actuator DM. This is the part that took us the longest, since cabling 2,000 wires is no easy task. This took multiple iterations in order to make sure all of the pins were aligned with the Samtec Connectors.

Kyle mounting the DM cables to the Samtec Connectors
El completo!
The fully cabled MagAO-X system

And so that marks the end of a long day for MagAO-X. Tomorrow we may finally close the loop for the first time in Chile!

Just another beautiful sunset at Las Campanas Observatory

The song of the day is going to be Moonlight Serenade, by Glenn Miller:

MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 2: MagAO-X Does Bongs

Unpacking Day 2 marks the 3rd day of MagAO-X unpacking activities, which only makes sense if you’re a computer scientist or you just try not to think about it too much.

Alex and Laird began the day by removing the teflon bars that had been installed in front of particularly expensive optics for protection during shipping.

Laird and Alex hard at work in the clean room

Meanwhile, Jared pressure-tested the electronics rack coolant system while I set up the AO Operator Computer.

We filled the instrument coolant lines with glycol and hooked the table to air, giving MagAO-X its first breath and drink at LCO.

The instrument table’s first breath of mountain air
Fresh glycol adds a much-needed splash of color to the instrument.

After passing its pressure test, the electronics rack coolant system joined in on the activities. Things got a little out of hand when Jared fashioned a makeshift bong and started passing out mixed drinks (glycol and distilled water — not recommended for human consumption).

And, most importantly, the goats made another appearance.

Alex visited with goats during an afternoon stroll.

I present the MagAO-X song of the day: “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes (related to the most recent MagAO-C song by its year of release—a tenuous but legal connection) .

MagAO-X 2019B Unpacking Day 1: The Unpackening

So it’s finally time to write my first blog post! My name is Alex Hedglen and I’m a 3rd year Optical Sciences PhD student at the University of Arizona! I’ve been involved with MagAO-X for the past couple of years, mainly helping Laird with the optomechanical design and alignment of the instrument. My first year project was to design a compact K-mirror (A.K.A. “derotator”) for MagAO-X, which you may see a blog post for in the future!

This is my first time here at LCO, and so far I am loving it. Clear skies every day, mountains as far as the eye can see, telescopes, amazing food, and fellow astronomers to geek out with…you really could not find a better place to do astronomy. It’s “astronomy wonderland” up here.

Today we unpacked MagAO-X, and it went very well. All that engineering and planning really came into effect today. We started the day with a group meeting at 9:00am, with PI Jared Males going over the unpacking procedures for the day.

PI Jared Males going over the unpacking procedures with the LCO mechanics.

The first step of the day was to unpack the electronics rack, which we brought inside the unpacking room yesterday. Immediately after we started lifting the box, the crane broke down! But luckily the LCO mechanics fixed it within the hour, so we were right back on track.

The electronics rack was left in this position when the crane broke!
The electronics rack was successfully lifted upright after the crane was fixed!
LCO mechanics removing the electronics rack from the box.
PI Jared Males is happy to see his electronics arrive safely to LCO.
Electronics rack stored safely in the clean room to give space for MagAO-X.

Once the electronics rack was safely unpacked, it was time to bring in MagAO-X! The instrument was left outside overnight, so once the electronics rack was out of the way, MagAO-X was brought inside.

MagAO-X entering the unpacking room.
The front box panel was unmounted first.
The instrument was rotated and the box was lifted onto 4 dollies.
The MagAO-X cart was assembled around the instrument.
The cart was used to lift the instrument off of the wire-rope-isolators.
The legs were rolled under MagAO-X.
The cart was disassembled and taken away from MagAO-X.
Welcome to LCO MagAO-X!

With MagAO-X unpacked by 5:00pm and no optical damage noticed, everyone is feeling pretty good. PI Jared Males will sleep well tonight! Tomorrow we will start getting MagAO-X up to speed. Kyle and Jared will work on the electronics while Laird and I work on the optomechanics.

Another beautiful sunset with the MagAO-X shipping crates.
Viscacha also watching the sunset.

Since the song of the day has to relate to the previous blog post’s song of the day, we’re gonna hit it one more time with Britney Spears: