The TAIAPAN instrument, being developed by the Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) - Macquarie University, deploys 159 Starbug robots to position optical fibers on a 32 cm glass field plate on the focal plane of the 1.2 m UK-Schmidt telescope. The Starbug Routing algorithm created for the instrument allows the autonomous robots to reach accuracies of 0.5 arcsec of the assigned target. It employs a 3 stage tiered approach to find a collision-free path for Starbugs of increasing complexity and computational cost. For each Starbug a path is attempted using a direct simultaneous movement. If unsuccessful, subsequently more complex (and expensive) methods are tried until a valid path is found or the target is discarded. The system uses a MongoDB database to record and retrieve starbug locations and properties which allow in-situ re-routing to take place as well.
The AAO Starbugs is a multi-functional positioning device used in the TAIPAN instrument currently being commissioned on the UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. TAIPAN is part of a design study for MANIFEST which is a fibre positioning instrument proposed for the Giant Magellan Telescope. The acquisition and guiding system for TAIPAN uses nine standard Starbugs, referred to as Guide Bugs. Each one uses a 7000 core coherent polymer fibre bundle on individual guide stars. This provides an astrometric reference frame for science fibre positioning, telescope guiding, instrument alignment and focus, all of which are invariant to telescope and atmospheric geometric anomalies. Guide Bugs are a technology that will enable improved science results for the TAIPAN instrument. In this paper we outline the design features and provide an update on software development.
The AAO’s TAIPAN instrument is a multi-object fibre positioner and spectrograph installed on the 1.2m UK-Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. The positioner, a prototype for the MANIFEST positioner on the Giant Magellan Telescope, uses independently controlled Starbug robots to position a maximum of 300 optical fibres on a 32cm glass field plate (for a 6 degree field of view), to an accuracy of 5 microns (0.3 arcsec). The Starbug technology allows multi-object spectroscopy to be carried out with a minimum of overhead between observations, significantly decreasing field configuration time. Over the next 5 years the TAIPAN instrument will be used for two southern-hemisphere surveys: Taipan, a spectroscopic survey of 1x10^6 galaxies at z<0.3, and FunnelWeb, a stellar survey complete to Gaia G=12.5. In this paper we present an overview of the operational TAIPAN instrument: its design, construction and integration, and discuss the 2017 commissioning campaign and science verification results obtained in early 2018.
The problem of atmospheric emission from OH molecules is a long standing problem for near-infrared astronomy. PRAXIS is a unique spectrograph which is fed by fibres that remove the OH background and is optimised specifically to benefit from OH-Suppression. The OH suppression is achieved with fibre Bragg gratings, which were tested successfully on the GNOSIS instrument. PRAXIS uses the same fibre Bragg gratings as GNOSIS in its first implementation, and will exploit new, cheaper and more efficient, multicore fibre Bragg gratings in the second implementation. The OH lines are suppressed by a factor of ∼ 1000, and the expected increase in the
signal-to-noise in the interline regions compared to GNOSIS is a factor of ∼ 9 with the GNOSIS gratings and a
factor of ∼ 17 with the new gratings.
PRAXIS will enable the full exploitation of OH suppression for the first time, which was not achieved by GNOSIS (a retrofit to an existing instrument that was not OH-Suppression optimised) due to high thermal emission, low spectrograph transmission and detector noise. PRAXIS has extremely low thermal emission, through the cooling of all significantly emitting parts, including the fore-optics, the fibre Bragg gratings, a long length of fibre, and the fibre slit, and an optical design that minimises leaks of thermal emission from outside the spectrograph. PRAXIS has low detector noise through the use of a Hawaii-2RG detector, and a high throughput through a efficient VPH based spectrograph. PRAXIS will determine the absolute level of the interline continuum and enable observations of individual objects via an IFU. In this paper we give a status update and report on acceptance tests.
The Australian Astronomical Observatory's TAIPAN instrument deploys 150 Starbug robots to position optical fibres to accuracies of 0.3 arcsec, on a 32 cm glass field plate on the focal plane of the 1.2 m UK-Schmidt telescope. This paper describes the software system developed to control and monitor the Starbugs, with particular emphasis on the automated path-finding algorithms, and the metrology software which keeps track of the position and motion of individual Starbugs as they independently move in a crowded field. The software employs a tiered approach to find a collision-free path for every Starbug, from its current position to its target location. This consists of three path-finding stages of increasing complexity and computational cost. For each Starbug a path is attempted using a simple method. If unsuccessful, subsequently more complex (and expensive) methods are tried until a valid path is found or the target is flagged as unreachable.
The High Efficiency and Resolution Multi Element Spectrograph, HERMES, is a facility-class optical spectrograph for the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT). It is designed primarily for Galactic Archaeology, the first major attempt to create a detailed understanding of galaxy formation and evolution by studying the history of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. The goal of the GALAH survey is to reconstruct the mass assembly history of the Milky Way through a detailed chemical abundance study of one million stars. The spectrograph is based at the AAT and is fed by the existing 2dF robotic fiber positioning system. The spectrograph uses volume phase holographic gratings to achieve a spectral resolving power of 28,000 in standard mode and also provides a high-resolution mode ranging between 40,000 and 50,000 using a slit mask. The GALAH survey requires an SNR greater than 100 for a star brightness of V=14 in an exposure time of one hour. The total spectral coverage of the four channels is about 100 nm between 370 and 1000 nm for up to 392 simultaneous targets within the 2-degree field of view. HERMES has been commissioned over three runs, during bright time in October, November, and December 2013, in parallel with the beginning of the GALAH pilot survey, which started in November 2013. We present the first-light results from the commissioning run and the beginning of the GALAH survey, including performance results such as throughput and resolution, as well as instrument reliability.
We present a stable, inexpensive wavelength reference, based on a white-light interferometer for the use on current and future (arrays of) diffraction-limited radial velocity (RV) spectrographs. The primary aim of using an interferometer is to obtain a dense sinusoidal wavelength reference with spectral coverage between 450-650 nm. Its basic setup consists of an unbalanced fiber Mach-Zehnder interferometer (FMZI) that creates an interference pattern in the spectral domain due to superposition of phase delayed light, set by a fixed optical path-length difference (OPD). To achieve long-term stability, the interferometer is actively locked to a stable atomic line. The system operates in closed-loop using a thermo-optic modulator as the phase feedback component. We conducted stability measurements by superimposing the wavelength reference with thorium-argon (ThAr) emission lines
and found the differential RMS shift to be ~5 m s-1 within 30 minute bins in an experiment lasting 5 hours.
We present the opto-mechanical design and the characterization of the Replicable High-resolution Exoplanet and Asteroseismology (RHEA) spectrograph. RHEA is an ultra-compact fiber-fed echelle spectrograph designed to be used at 0.2-0.4 m class robotic telescopes where long term dedicated projects are possible. The instrument will be primarily used for radial velocity (RV) studies of low to intermediate-mass giant stars for the purpose of searching for hot Jupiters and using asteroseismology to simultaneously measure the host star parameters and de-correlate stellar pulsations. The optical design comprises a double-pass (i.e. near Littrow) configuration with
prism cross-disperser and single-mode fiber (SMF) input. The spectrograph has a resolving power of R>70,000 and operates at 430–670 nm with minimum order separation of ~180 μm. This separation allows a 1x6 photonic
lantern integration at a later stage which is currently under development. The current design is built with the aim of creating an inexpensive and replicable unit. The spectrograph is optimised for long-baseline RV observations through careful temperature stabilisation and simultaneous wavelength calibration. As a further improvement the echelle grating is housed in a vacuum chamber to maintain pressure stability. The performance of the current prototype is currently being tested on a 0.4 m telescope at the Macquarie University Observatory.