Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



SPACE SCOPES
$4 Million laser marks ground zero for adaptive optics science
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Dec 10, 2015


These plots show the symmetry of the artificially created guide star in the mesosphere. Image courtesy W. M. Keck Observatory. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Hawaii's W. M. Keck Observatory has successfully deployed a $4 million laser system that provides a marked increase in the resolution and clarity of what are already the most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The new laser was projected on the sky for the first time on the evening of December 1, 2015, and will allow scientists from around the world to observe the heavens above Maunakea in unprecedented detail.

"The Next Generation Laser System is the third generation of lasers at Keck Observatory, which has been pioneering laser guide star adaptive optics on big telescopes since 2001," said Jason Chin, the project manager for the new laser at Keck Observatory.

The first laser guide star adaptive optics system on a large telescope was commissioned on the Keck II telescope in 2004 and, among many other firsts, helped reveal the black hole at the center of the Milky Way - one the most significant astronomical discoveries.

The second laser system was installed in 2011 on the Keck I telescope, propelling Keck Observatory's lead as the premiere adaptive optics research facility in the world. To date more than 240 science results from these laser systems have been published in astronomical journals.

Keck Observatory's laser guide star systems create an artificial star in the Earth's mesosphere, at an altitude of roughly 60 miles, by energizing a naturally occurring layer of sodium atoms, causing them to fluoresce. The adaptive optics system uses this artificial laser guide star to measure the aberrations introduced by turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere.

A six-inch diameter deformable mirror with 349 actuators is then used to correct for these aberrations at a rate of 1,000 times per second, effectively taking the twinkle out of the stars and providing near-perfect detail for planets, stars and galaxies. Combined with the 10-meter diameter primary mirror, Keck Observatory can offer images with five times the resolution of even the Hubble Space Telescope.

The new laser is the result of a collaboration between Keck Observatory and the European Southern Observatory to develop a more efficient and powerful facility class, commercial laser for astronomy.

The new laser, fabricated by TOPTICA in Germany and MPBC in Canada, meets both goals handily: the power consumption on the new system is down to 1.2 kW from the previous 80 kW used by the former dye laser system while performance has increased by a factor of ten.

Further, the new laser can transition from off to an operational state in five minutes - a dramatic improvement over the five to six hours for the dye laser, which was decommissioned in October to make room for the new laser.

Perhaps most significantly, this is first of the new generation of lasers that all future telescopes are planning on and are looking to Hawaii's findings to build their systems.

Funding for the project came from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation and Friends of Keck Observatory. Initial seed funding was provided by the National Science Foundation.

More than one-third of the budget was spent in Hawaii designing and installing the systems and related infrastructure to support and operate the new laser. The remaining budget was spent on the laser itself - more than $2.5 million. The project also provided infrastructure for adding two additional lasers to support laser tomography in order to determine the distribution of atmospheric turbulence versus altitude.

Once funded, the additional lasers can be easily added to the system and would allow a much larger area of the sky to be sampled with even better correction of the atmospheric turbulence.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Keck Observatory
Space Telescope News and Technology at Skynightly.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
SPACE SCOPES
CTA Prototype Telescope Achieves "First Light"
Meudon, France (SPX) Dec 09, 2015
On 26 November 2015, a prototype telescope proposed for the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), recorded CTA's first ever Cherenkov light while undergoing testing at L'Observatoire de Paris in Meudon, France. The GCT is proposed as one of CTA's small size telescopes (SSTs), covering the high end of the CTA energy range, between about 1 and 300 TeV (tera-electron v ... read more


SPACE SCOPES
Virgin Galactic Welcomes 'Cosmic Girl' To Fleet Of Space Access Vehicles

Orbital cargo ship blasts off toward space station

45th Space Wing supports NASA's Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch

DXL-2: Studying X-ray emissions in space

SPACE SCOPES
Mars Mission Team Addressing Vacuum Leak on Key Science Instrument

Letter to Mars? Royal Mail works it out for British boy, 5

European payload selected for ExoMars 2018 surface platform

ExoMars has historical, practical significance for Russia, Europe

SPACE SCOPES
Gaia's sensors scan a lunar transit

SwRI scientists explain why moon rocks contain fewer volatiles than Earth's

All-female Russian crew starts Moon mission test

Russian moon mission would need 4 Angara-A5V launches

SPACE SCOPES
Rotational movies of Pluto and Charon

New Visualization of Space Environment at Pluto

New Horizons' catches a wandering Kuiper Belt Object not far off

Pluto surface details revealed in best images yet

SPACE SCOPES
What kinds of stars form rocky planets

Half of Kepler's giant exoplanet candidates are false positives

Exiled exoplanet likely kicked out of star's neighborhood

Neptune-size exoplanet around a red dwarf star

SPACE SCOPES
NASA Marshall Prepares for SLS Foam Testing

LISA Pathfinder carries advanced NASA thruster tech

Bezos takes big step towards reusable commercial space flight

Progress continues on test version of SLS Connection Hardware

SPACE SCOPES
China's indigenous SatNav performing well after tests

China launches Yaogan-29 remote sensing satellite

China's scientific satellites to enter uncharted territory

China to launch Dark Matter Satellite in mid-December

SPACE SCOPES
New US space mining law to spark interplanetary gold rush

Robot arm simulates close approach of ESA's asteroid mission

Dawn spiraling in towards Ceres

Japan asteroid probe conducts 'Earth swing-by' in space quest




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement