The Shutter in Closed Loop Action

The Magellan AO VisAO camera includes a novel system for performing “frame selection”, which is the technique of using only periods of good seeing and/or AO correction in the final science image. Traditional “lucky imaging” does this by reading short exposures and selecting in post processing. In our system, we use measurements of Strehl ratio in real time and open and close the shutter based on those measurements. This video shows our shutter working with the AO loop closed in the Solar tower in Arcetri, Italy. It was taken during the week after our pre-ship review.

The Strehl time series is derived from our custom wavefront reconstructor (calculations are done on a GPU). During this testing the shutter decisions were based only on the most recent Strehl measurement, meaning that we did not use any predictive algorithms. Note the fleeting moments of a clear Airy pattern as the shutter finds the highest peaks in the Strehl ratio time series.

The real question is: does it do any good? We’re still analyzing all the data we took, but for now this demonstration is an important step showing that our telemetry and hardware systems can do real-time frame selection.