Gemini South’s New Laser
Figure 2 (left).
Engineer) points to a design
that shows where light
will enter the OCTOCAM
Figure 3 (right).
Susan Pope (OCTOCAM
Systems Engineer, SwRI)
shows the preliminary
designs of the OCTOCAM
IR detector and mount
(left screen) to Carl
(Mechanical Engineer, SwRI).
Credit: Andrea Blank
Figure 4 (left).
Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA) from the proj-
ect. IAA had originally provided the PI and
Deputy Project Manager roles through their
subcontract with SwRI. We regret the depar-
ture and are grateful to IAA for bringing this
project to Gemini.
In mid-December, Morten Andersen (Gemini
Instrument Scientist) and van der Horst met
to progress the Concept of Operations docu-
ment, which describes the instrument’s op-
erating modes and requirements. In January,
2018, the team will come together at a Quar-
terly Review Meeting that will take place at
both FRACTAL — a private technological
company in Madrid, Spain, responsible for
the instrument’s opto-mechanical design
and construction — and The George Wash-
The team expects to hold its Preliminary De-
sign Review in Q2 2018.
— Andrea Blank
Gemini South TOPTICA
laser constellation during
the Commissioning Run
on Oct 26-30, 2017.
For four days and nights beginning on Oc-
tober 26th, a team of scientists, observers,
and engineers of the Gemni South Laser Up-
grade project successfully commissioned the
new SodiumStar TOPTICA Phototronics laser
guide star facility. During the run, the team
validated the new laser’s performance, com-
paring it, back to back, with the old Lockheed
Martin Coherent Technologies laser. The new
TOPTICA laser shows very stable and reliable
operation, and gives excellent sodium return
despite being lower power than the LMCT
laser, demonstrating the effectiveness of the
sideband repumping feature of the TOPTICA
laser. Direct comparison of sodium return
from the two lasers allows a unique experi-
ment comparing sodium excitation efficien-
cy between pulsed (LMCT) and continuous
(TOPTICA) lasers, with results to be present-
ed at the SPIE conference in June.
The new TOPTICA laser was used during the
next science laser run for six nights starting
on December 6 th — good seeing and a stable
laser gave excellent Gemini Multi-conjugate
adaptive optics System (GeMS) performance
and stable adaptive optics (AO) loops.
GeMS instrument Associate Scientist Gaetano
Sivo comments in the observing log: “The per-
formance was unique. The first program we
got diffraction limited in K on several expo-
sures, we can see airy rings just on raw data [59
milliarcseconds (mas)]. All K images got sub-75
mas resolution; we got sub-80 mas in J-band.”
— Manuel Lazo and Paul Hirst
Figure 5 (right).
Gemini South TOPTICA
Laser First Propagation
during the October 2017
Credit (Figures 4 & 5):
Ariel Lopez, GS Science