Adaptive optics is used to improve the spatial resolution obtained with a ground-based telescope by compensating the effects of turbulence within the Earth’s atmosphere. Such systems employ a wavefront sensor system for accurately measuring the effect of the turbulence and a deformable mirror for correcting the turbulence effects. Adaptive optics systems are routinely used at the majority of the world’s professional telescopes.
The AAO have been involved in the development of novel components and concepts for adaptive optic systems, such as distributed wavefront sensing, and have tested these concepts on-telescope at the AAT.
The AAO is leading an international consortium which won an 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. Please see here for more info.