geminiann11002 — Announcement
On-sky Laser Propagation at Gemini South!
20 January 2011
On the night of January 21-22, 2011 the Gemini South 50-watt laser began on-sky engineering testing and commissioning with its successful propagation into the sky over the summit of Cerro Pachón in Chile (see Figures a&b).
The laser, an integral part of the Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS), is designed to produce five individual laser guide stars (LGS) that will help provide extremely high angular resolution over a relative wide area of the sky. Adaptive optics systems work by sampling the distortion of starlight by our atmosphere with natural and artificial (laser) guide stars and removing much of the blurring caused by our atmosphere with deformable mirrors.
The technical testing and integration of the laser into the GeMS system will continue through this year as the Canopus adaptive optics system and the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager are also commissioned and integrated (see geminiann11002c). When complete, this will be the most advanced adaptive optics system in astronomy, opening new possibilities for scientists to make progress in studies of fundamental topics, including the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies.