AAO Leads the Gemini North Adaptive Optics Bench Project

The Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) led an international consortium which won a A$15 million international contract to lead the design and construction of adaptive optics for the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii, one of the world’s largest and most advanced optical telescopes.

The Adaptive Optics Bench (AOB) project is led by Macquarie University’s Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) team, in collaboration with the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) from the Australian National University, the French Aerospace Laboratory (Office National d’Études et de Recherches Aérospatiales, or ONERA), Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, or LAM) the OHP (Observatoire de Haute Provence), and French specialist optical manufacturer ALPAO. The partnership also includes consulting firms Space ODT (Portugal), Mersenne Optical Consulting (New Zealand), and Wakea Consulting (France).

The Gemini North Adaptive Optics project recently completed a one-year competitive design phase for the AOB sub-component. Three teams developed independent conceptual designs for the AOB and each proposed a path toward the final design, build and installation at the telescope. Of the three teams, Macquarie University’s AAO team was selected.

“We assembled a team of world-leading experts, and our design was chosen for its innovative approach and efficient techniques to enable high throughput of light.” says Distinguished Professor Jon Lawrence from AAO, and Principal Investigator for the AOB project.

“The adaptive optics technology we are developing will remove the blur from turbulence in our atmosphere, so astronomers can see sharper, cleaner images through the 8.1-metre Gemini North telescope, opening up new possibilities for scientific discovery.”

“Gemini North telescope is one of the world’s most advanced optical telescopes, and this project will make it even more powerful.”

The project will also provide hundreds of hours of guaranteed observing time on the Gemini North telescope for Australian astronomers, significantly expanding our research capabilities.


Photo Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Horálek (Institute of Physics in Opava)