Robotic visible-light laser adaptive optics
Christoph Baranec  1, *@  , Reed Riddle  1@  , Nicholas Law  2@  , A. N. Ramaprakash  3@  , Shriharsh Tendulkar  1@  , Khanh Bui  1@  , Mahesh Burse  3@  , Pravin Chordia  3@  , Hillol Das  3@  , Richard Dekany  1@  , Shrinivas Kulkarni  1@  , Sujit Punnadi  3@  
1 : Caltech Optical Observatories
2 : Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto
3 : Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics
* : Corresponding author

Robo-AO is the first autonomous laser adaptive optics system and science instrument operating on sky. With minimal human oversight, the system robotically executes large scale surveys, monitors long-term astrophysical dynamics and characterizes newly discovered transients, all at the visible diffraction limit. The adaptive optics setup time, from the end of the telescope slew to the beginning of an observation, is a mere ~50-60 s, enabling over 200 observations per night. The first of many envisioned systems has finished 58 nights of science observing at the Palomar Observatory 60-inch (1.5 m) telescope, with over 6,400 robotic observations executed thus far. The system will be augmented in late 2013 with a low-noise wide field infrared camera, which doubles as a tip-tilt sensor, to widen the spectral bandwidth of observations and increase available sky coverage while also enabling deeper visible imaging using adaptive-optics sharpened infrared tip-tilt guide sources. Techniques applicable to larger telescope systems will also be tested: the infrared camera will be used to demonstrate advanced multiple region-of-interest tip-tilt guiding methods, and a visitor instrument port will be used for evaluation of other instrumentation, e.g. single-mode and photonic fibers to feed compact spectrographs.



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