The TMT Adaptive Optics Program
TMT Observatory Corporation
We provide an overview of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) AO program, with an emphasis upon the progress made since the first AO4ELT conference held in 2009.
The first light facility AO system for TMT is the Narrow Field Infra-Red AO System (NFIRAOS), which will provide diffraction-limited performance in the J, H, and K bands over 18-30 arc sec diameter fields with 50% sky coverage at the galactic pole. This is accomplished with order 60x60 wavefront sensing and correction, two deformable mirrors conjugate to ranges of 0 and 11.2 km, 6 sodium laser guide stars in an asterism with a diameter of 70 arc sec, and three low order (tip/tilt or tip/tilt focus), infra-red natural guide star (NGS) wavefront sensors deployable within a 2 arc minute diameter patrol field. The first light LGS asterism is generated by the Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF), which initially incorporates 6 20-25W class laser systems mounted to the telescope elevation journal, a mirror-based beam transfer optics system, and a 0.4m diameter laser launch telescope located behind the TMT secondary mirror.
Future plans for additional AO capabilities include a mid infra-red AO (MIRAO) system to support science instruments in the 4-20 micron range, a ground-layer AO (GLAO) system for wide-field spectroscopy, a multi-object AO (MOAO) system for multi-object integral field unit spectroscopy, and extreme AO (ExAO) for high contrast imaging.
Significant progress has been made in developing the first-light AO architecture since 2009. This includes the adoption of a new NFIRAOS opto-mechanical design consisting of two off-axis parabola (OAP) relays in series, which eliminates field distortion and also significantly simplifies the designs of the LGS wavefront sensors, optical source simulators, and turbulence generator subsystem. The design of the LGSF has also been interated, and has been simplfied by the relocation of the (smaller, gravity invarient) laser systems to the telescope elevation journal.
Protoyping activities continue for laser systems, wavefront sensing detectors, and deformable mirrors; work on the associated detector and deformable mirror electronics has also been initiated. AO Performance estimates and error budgets have been further detailed. Some of the modeling topics which have received particular attention include turbulence (Cn2) profile estimation from LGS WFS measurements, sodium layer range tracking, PSF reconstruction for multi-conjugate AO, LGS fratricide, astrometry at the galactic center, and further optimizing sky coverage and the peformance of the tip/tilt and low-order NGS mode control loops. Finally, experiments and field tests continue at the University of British Columbia LIDAR facility to measure the spatial and temporal variability of the sodium layer, and to characterize the sodium coupling efficiency of candidate laser systems for TMT.