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Boston Micromachines Corporation 144 Actuator Deformable Mirror and Shack-Hartmann lenslet Wavefront Sensor

Adaptive Optics System

An adaptive optics system for use on astronomical telescopes for the wavefront-sensing and deformable mirror corrections for the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere.  The system allows us to take high angular resolution imaging of celestial objects to see faint, nearby companions and improved clarity and detail. The net result is to effectively transform the atmospheric turbulence conditions of Fairfax, Virginia to that of a more laminar stable atmospheric site such as the high desert of Arizona.  Future plans include using the high angular resolution optical beam from the telescope to couple starlight into a single mode fiber spectrograph for high-resolution spectroscopy.

Planetary Hall, 116
Fairfax Campus

Contact for Scheduling:
Peter Plavchan
Associate Professor, Director of the Mason Observatory

Technical Specifications

This adaptive optics system has been adapted from a Thor Labs kit for use on our campus 0.8-telescope.  A custom enclosure was designed and fabricated.  Light for the system can currently be sent to a CMOS sensor or a CRED2 near-infrared InGaAs camera.  The system is currently undergoing commissioning and testing.  The software used for controlling the wavefront sensor and deformable mirror are the default software provided by Thor Labs.


Requires training. If interested in working on or continuing to develop this system for research use, please contact Peter Plavchan.

View the full list of the College's of Science's shared instrumentation