Variable Curvature Mirrors for ELT Laser Guide Star refocusing systems


Zalpha Challita, Emmanuel Hugot, Marc Ferrari, Fabrice Madec, David Le Mignant, Jean-Gabriel Cuby


Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM)


The future generation of Extremely Large Telescopes will require a complex combination of technologies for adaptive optics (AO) systems assisted by laser guide stars (LGS). In this context, LGS defocusing is one of the system issues that can be tackled using active refocusing mirrors such as Variable Curvature Mirrors (VCM). Indeed, the distance from the LGS spot to the telescope pupil ranges from about 80 to 200 km, depending on the Sodium layer altitude and the elevation of the telescope, and induces a large defocusing at the LGS wave-front sensor focal plane. To compensate for that, we propose an original concept including a VCM specifically designed to keep a focused spot on the wave-front sensor: the mirror is made of a thin meniscus bend using a pressure applied on its back face. Due to the large defocusing, the LGS-VCM must be able to change its shape from F/12.5 to F/5, leading to more than 1 mm sag. The VCM benefits of a specific shape with a variable radial thickness distribution, allowing keeping an optical quality better than λ/5 over this very large range of deformation. The work presented here details the analytical development leading to the specific geometry of the active component, the results of finite element analysis and the expected performances in terms of surface error versus the range of refocalisation. Two prototypes have been manufactured to compare the real behaviour of the mirror and the simulations data. Results obtained on the prototypes show that the deformation of the VCM is very close to the simulation, and leads to a realistic concept.