The Center's Education and Research Themes

 

Theme 1: Education & Human Resources

Education and Human Resources (EHR) spans all Center activities and includes formal education, informal education, professional training (workshops, summer schools, short courses, etc.) and activities focused on increasing the diversity of the Center. EHR focuses its efforts on two areas (1) funding EHR programs and projects, and (2) developing and supporting opportunities for all Center scientists to contribute to EHR goals. These two mechanisms often overlap and merge, taking advantage of the extensive resources of the Center and the specific skills and talents of individual members.

Theme 2 - AO for Extra Large Telescopes (ELTs):

Motivation: The highest recommendation of the NAS Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee (2001) was the design and construction of a ground based 30-m telescope, equipped with adaptive optics (giant segmented mirror telescope, or GSMT). Developing an adequate adaptive optics system for this will be extremely challenging and require developments in most technical areas of adaptive optics. Making a major contribution towards achieving this national priority is a natural and suitable objective for the CfAO. The benefits of multi-conjugate adaptive optics include widening the diffraction-limited field of view and achieving near-complete sky coverage with laser beacons (by overcoming the cone effect). While the ultimate implementation of a multi-conjugate adaptive optics (MCAO) system for a 30-m telescope will require both time and resources beyond the scope of the CfAO, we believe that we can implement the crucial steps needed for its successful implementation.

Theme 3: Extreme Adaptive Optics (eXAO) enabling ultra-high-contrast astronomical observations

Motivation: The eXAO theme is scientifically driven by the need to achieve high-contrast imaging and spectroscopic capabilities to enhance the detection and characterization of extra-solar planetary systems and their precursor disk material. By improving image quality, eXAO systems enable faint objects to be detected close to bright sources that would otherwise overwhelm them. This is accomplished both by increasing the peak intensity of point-source images and by removing light scattered by the atmosphere and the telescope optics into the "seeing disk". This combination of effects can dramatically improve the achievable contrast ratio for astronomical observations. The primary goal of this theme is to catalyze the development of the next generation of high-order adaptive optics systems in order to achieve unprecedented capabilities for high-contrast astronomy. This will require activities in eXAO system design along with the design of instruments, such as coronagraphs, optimized for high-contrast observations. Additional crucial activities include the development of new simulation capabilities for eXAO systems and instruments, along with better characteriz-ation of the performance existing high-order AO systems, and the development of new technologies in high-order wavefront correction devices, such as MEMS deformable mirrors, and in wavefront control system algorithms and architectures. Ongoing scientific utilization of high-contrast observational capabilities and development of data processing techniques optimized for high-contrast observations are also critical activities for this theme.

There are likely to be many cross cutting issues with Theme 2.

Theme 4: Compact Vision Science Instrumentation for Clinical and Scientific Use
Picture above, an AO system for ophthalmic applications. Along the way, these new and existing AO systems will be used to advance our understanding of human vision, and to explore medical applications of adaptive optics. This is a crucial way to provide feedback for the utility of advanced AO designs.

Ophthalmic AO systems have been demonstrated in the laboratory for scientific research. The next horizon is to engineer compact, robust AO systems for use in clinics as well as scientific laboratories. These systems will be developed in cooperation with the MEMs efforts at the Lawrence Livermore laboratory, in particular and other associated CfAO institutions. The long-term goal is to commercialize a compact AO system for ophthalmic applications. Along the way, these new and existing AO systems will be used to advance our understanding of human vision, and to explore medical applications of adaptive optics. This(Is a crucial way to provide feedback for the utility of the advanced AO designs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Page last revised on: Monday, 20-Aug-2007 16:35:08 PDT