Gemini Observatory: Design and production of Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) software including Beam Transfer Optics

The client

The Gemini Observatory is an international $180m project, operating twin 8.1 metre reflecting telescopes, one sited in Hawaii and the other in Chile, which together provide complete sky coverage.

Project background

The adaptive optics system (Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics, MCAO) is a new capability being developed for Gemini North and South. It is a major new instrument that will provide significant advances in overcoming the problems of atmospheric turbulence.

Our responsibility

Observatory Sciences is involved in both the design and the production of the software for this system, specifically:

The Beam Transfer Optics (BTO) system, which will take a laser beam from the centre section of the telescope and launch it from the Laser-Launch Telescope behind the secondary mirror.

The Beam Transfer Optics Diagnostics Sensor System (BTODSS), which will use a pair of commercial CCD cameras to image the near and far field patterns of the Gemini Laser system and provide corrections to the BTO mirrors.

The Adaptive Optics Module (AOM), which contains all the optics and sensors to compensate the input f/16 beam from the telescope and relay it to the instrument at f/33. The components of the AOM are mounted on an optical bench that is attached to the Instrument Support Structure. Observatory Sciences was selected to provide the control system for all the mechanisms within the AOM apart from the control of the tip/tilt and deformable mirrors.


BTODSS will be the first Gemini EPICS system based on Linux rather than VxWorks; will incorporate beam quality analysis by deriving the phase of the laser wavefront from the intensities of the near and far field intensity distributions.

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