The Starbug technology1 developed by AAO-MQ allows fibre positioners to be built with large multiplexing capabilities. The Starbug robots are positionable individually and in parallel, which results in significant configuration time improvements over what can be achieved by single-arm pick and place robots. Their design allows the Starbugs to carry a complex payload, and their movement mechanism and vacuum adhesion to the instrument's glass field plate at the telescope's focal plane means that they can be used to position fibres on a non-planar surface.
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.
MANIFEST is a multi-object fibre facility for the Giant Magellan Telescope that uses ‘Starbug’ robots to accurately position fibre units across the telescope’s focal plane. MANIFEST, when coupled to the telescope’s planned seeinglimited instruments, offers access to larger fields of view; higher multiplex gains; versatile focal plane reformatting of the focal plane via integral-field-units; image-slicers; and in some cases higher spatial and spectral resolution. The TAIPAN instrument on the UK Schmidt Telescope is now close to science verification which will demonstrate the feasibility of the Starbug concept. We are now moving into the conceptual development phase for MANIFEST, with a focus on developing interfaces for the telescope and for the instruments.
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.
MANIFEST is a facility multi-object fibre system for the Giant Magellan Telescope, which uses ‘Starbug’ fibre positioning robots. MANIFEST, when coupled to the telescope’s planned seeing-limited instruments, GMACS, and G-CLEF, offers access to: larger fields of view; higher multiplex gains; versatile reformatting of the focal plane via IFUs; image-slicers; and in some cases higher spatial and spectral resolution. The Prototyping Design Study phase for MANIFEST, nearing completion, has focused on developing a working prototype of a Starbugs system, called TAIPAN, for the UK Schmidt Telescope, which will conduct a stellar and galaxy survey of the Southern sky. The Prototyping Design Study has also included work on the GMT instrument interfaces. In this paper, we outline the instrument design features of TAIPAN, highlight the modifications that will be necessary for the MANIFEST implementation, and provide an update on the MANIFEST/instrument interfaces.
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.
TAIPAN will conduct a stellar and galaxy survey of the Southern sky. The TAIPAN positioner is being developed as a prototype for the MANIFEST instrument on the GMT. The design for TAIPAN incorporates 150 optical fibres (with an upgrade path to 300) situated within independently controlled robotic positioners known as Starbugs. Starbugs allow precise parallel positioning of individual fibres, thus significantly reducing instrument configuration time and increasing the amount of observing time. Presented is an engineering overview of the UKST upgrade of the completely new Instrument Spider Assembly utilized to support the Starbug Fibre Positioning Robot and current status of the Starbug itself.
Starbugs are miniature piezoelectric ‘walking’ robots that can be operated in parallel to position many payloads (e.g.
optical fibres) across a telescope’s focal plane. They consist of two concentric piezo-ceramic tubes that walk with micron
step size. In addition to individual optical fibres, Starbugs have moved a payload of 0.75kg at several millimetres per
second. The Australian Astronomical Observatory previously developed prototype devices and tested them in the
laboratory. Now we are optimising the Starbug design for production and deployment in the TAIPAN instrument, which
will be capable of configuring 300 optical fibres over a six degree field-of-view on the UK Schmidt Telescope within a
few minutes. The TAIPAN instrument will demonstrate the technology and capability for MANIFEST (Many Instrument
Fibre-System) proposed for the Giant Magellan Telescope. Design is addressing: connector density and voltage
limitations, mechanical reliability and construction repeatability, field plate residues and scratching, metrology stability,
and facilitation of improved motion in all aspects of the design for later evaluation. Here we present the new design
features of the AAO TAIPAN Starbug.
MANIFEST is a fibre feed system for the Giant Magellan Telescope that, coupled to the seeing-limited instruments
GMACS and G-CLEF, offers qualitative and quantitative gains over each instrument’s native capabilities in terms of
multiplex, field of view, and resolution. The MANIFEST instrument concept is based on a system of semi-autonomous
probes called “Starbugs” that hold and position hundreds of optical fibre IFUs under a glass field plate placed at the
GMT Cassegrain focal plane. The Starbug probes feature co-axial piezoceramic tubes that, via the application of
appropriate AC waveforms, contract or bend, providing a discrete stepping motion. Simultaneous positioning of all
Starbugs is achieved via a closed-loop metrology system.
Starbugs are miniaturised robotic devices that position optical fibres over a telescope’s focal plane in parallel operation
for high multiplex spectroscopic surveys. The key advantage of the Starbug positioning system is its potential to
configure fields of hundreds of targets in a few minutes, consistent with typical detector readout times. Starbugs have
been selected as the positioning technology for the TAIPAN (Transforming Astronomical Imaging surveys through
Polychromatic Analysis of Nebulae) instrument, a prototype for MANIFEST (Many Instrument Fiber System) on the
GMT (Giant Magellan Telescope). TAIPAN consists of a 150-fibre Starbug positioner accessing the 6 degree field-ofview
of the AAO’s UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. For TAIPAN, it is important to optimise the
target allocation and routing algorithms to provide the fastest configurations times. We present details of the algorithms
and results of the simulated performance.
TAIPAN is a spectroscopic instrument designed for the UK Schmidt Telescope at the Australian Astronomical Observatory. In addition to undertaking the TAIPAN survey, it will serve as a prototype for the MANIFEST fibre positioner system for the future Giant Magellan Telescope. The design for TAIPAN incorporates up to 300 optical fibres situated within independently-controlled robotic positioners known as Starbugs, allowing precise parallel positioning of every fibre, thus significantly reducing instrument configuration time and increasing observing time. We describe the design of the TAIPAN instrument system, as well as the science that will be accomplished by the TAIPAN survey. We also highlight results from the on-sky tests performed in May 2014 with Starbugs on the UK Schmidt Telescope and briefly introduce the role that Starbugs will play in MANIFEST.
We present an overview of the EAGLE science case, which spans spatially resolved spectroscopy of targets from five
key science areas - ranging from studies of heavily obscured Galactic star clusters, right out to the first galaxies at the
highest redshifts. Here we summarise the requirements adopted for the study and also evaluate the availability of natural
guide stars in example fields, which will impact on the adaptive optics performance and architecture.
We present a report on the current development status of the ALMA Observing Tool, describing how the tool operates as
an integrated environment for proposal and program preparation. The paper also covers the science-oriented graphical
tools for both spatial and spectral setup, their system-oriented equivalents, local oscillator and correlator setup assistants
as well as program validation.
MIRI, the Mid-InfraRed Instrument, is one of four instruments being built for the James Webb Space Telescope, and is developed jointly between an European Consortium and the US. In this paper we present a software data simulator for one of MIRI's four instruments: the Integral Field Unit (IFU) Medium Resolution Spectrometer (MIRI-MRS), the first mid-infrared IFU spectrograph, and one of the first IFUs to be used in a space mission. To give the MIRI community a preview of the properties of the MIRI-MRS data products before the telescope is operational, the Specsim tool has been developed to model, in software, the operation of the spectrometer. Specsim generates synthetic data frames approximating those which will be taken by the instrument in orbit. The program models astronomical sources and generates detector frames using the predicted and measured optical properties of the telescope and MIRI. These frames can then be used to illustrate and inform a range of operational activities, including data calibration strategies and the development and testing of the data reduction software for the MIRI-MRS. Specsim will serve as a means of communication between the many consortium members by providing a way to easily illustrate the performance of the spectrometer under different circumstances, tolerances of components and design scenarios.