Shooting lasers into space – for science!

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Light of astronomical objects gets distorted as it passes earth’s atmosphere. Adaptive optics can correct this distortion and create images that are as sharp as those taken in space. The correction needs a bright reference star. If there is no such star nearby, an artificial Laser Guide Star can be created in the upper atmosphere.

A lot of clever real time software, hardware and feedback loops steer a deformable mirror to straighten the distorted wavefront. The talk looks at the technologies of this fascinating technique and will also cover the question how to become a laser-rocket-scientist. Also, there will be star-wars like laser pew pew pictures & videos.

In the first part I will talk about the background of adaptive optics and how it enables ground-based observations which people though to be impossible only two decades ago. We will look at the building blocks of such a system and how they are combined to work together nicely.

The second part will look at a real Laser-AO system, the project I have worked with, ARGOS at the LARGE Binocular Telescope in Arizona. I will present the system in detail and talk about the little things in all the black boxes. Mechanics, electronics, Optics and Software. We will have images and videos of the system at work and look at first test results showing the potential of this system.
ARGOS feeds one of three near-infrared multi-object spectrometers that exists on this planet (Instruments name: LUCI). LUCI is used to record light from the universe 11 billion years ago to to answer the question where galaxies came from and how they developed.

In the last (somewhat shorter) part I want to briefly talk about what it takes to get into this kind of work, how to become a „laser rocket scientist“. I get this question a lot in Q&A sessions and therefore want to address it right away. There are misconceptions about his type of work and quite a number of people leave the field again – mainly because school and especially university puts up a distorted picture and sometimes questionable promises about careers in science.

Talk ID
Hall 6
9:45 p.m.
Type of
Peter Buschkamp
Talk Slug & media link

Talk & Speaker speed statistics

Very rough underestimation:
134.6 wpm
718.2 spm
138.6 wpm
739.3 spm
100.0% Checking done100.0%
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Talk & Speaker speed statistics with word clouds

Whole talk:
134.6 wpm
718.2 spm
Peter Buschkamp:
138.6 wpm
739.3 spm