Robo-AO, an autonomous laser adaptive optics (AO) and science instrument that is currently deployed at the 1.5m telescope at Palomar, California, is using a MEMS-based deformable mirror from Boston Micromachines.
Robo-AO brings adaptive optics technology, normally limited to much larger telescopes with larger budgets, to small and mid-size telescopes, increasing their imaging power. Because it automates the processes, efficiency is increased, less effort is required and researchers are able to carry out many more observations per night than doing it manually. Additionally, because the system is robotic it can rapidly respond to new discoveries such as supernovae or repeatedly observe targets over time providing the ability to monitor weather on other planets in the solar system.
Boston Micromachines’ Multi-DM is used by Robo-AO to improve the quality of the telescope’s images by correcting for the degrading aberrations caused by atmospheric turbulence.
'We built this system with an eye toward automation, requiring that all components be extremely reliable and predictable, as well as cost effective,' said Christoph Baranec, principal investigator for the Robo-AO project, which is a collaboration between Caltech Optical Observatories and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics. 'Boston Micromachines’ Multi-DM fit our requirements perfectly – it is super reliable and economical. And being an off-the-shelf product we know that we can quickly and easily replace the Multi-DM if we ever need to.'