The presence of large amounts of dust in the habitable zones of nearby stars is a significant obstacle for future exo-Earth imaging missions. We executed the HOSTS (Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Systems) survey to determine the typical amount of such exozodiacal dust around a sample of nearby main sequence stars. The majority of the data have been analyzed and we present here an update of our ongoing work. Nulling interferometry in N band was used to suppress the bright stellar light and to detect faint, extended circumstellar dust emission. We present an overview of the latest results from our ongoing work. We find seven new N band excesses in addition to the high confidence confirmation of three that were previously known. We find the first detections around Sun-like stars and around stars without previously known circumstellar dust. Our overall detection rate is 23%. The inferred occurrence rate is comparable for early type and Sun-like stars, but decreases from 71+11 -20% for stars with previously detected mid- to far-infrared excess to 11+9 -4% for stars without such excess, confirming earlier results at high confidence. For completed observations on individual stars, our sensitivity is five to ten times better than previous results. Assuming a lognormal luminosity function of the dust, we find upper limits on the median dust level around all stars without previously known mid to far infrared excess of 11.5 zodis at 95% confidence level. The corresponding upper limit for Sun-like stars is 16 zodis. An LBTI vetted target list of Sun-like stars for exo-Earth imaging would have a corresponding limit of 7.5 zodis. We provide important new insights into the occurrence rate and typical levels of habitable zone dust around main sequence stars. Exploiting the full range of capabilities of the LBTI provides a critical opportunity for the detailed characterization of a sample of exozodiacal dust disks to understand the origin, distribution, and properties of the dust.
Here we review the current optical mechanical design of MagAO-X. The project is post-PDR and has finished the design phase. The design presented here is the baseline to which all the optics and mechanics have been fabricated. The optical/mechanical performance of this novel extreme AO design will be presented here for the first time. Some highlights of the design are: 1) a floating, but height stabilized, optical table; 2) a Woofer tweeter (2040 actuator BMC MEMS DM) design where the Woofer can be the current f/16 MagAO ASM or, more likely, fed by the facility f/11 static secondary to an ALPAO DM97 woofer; 3) 22 very compact optical mounts that have a novel locking clamp for additional thermal and vibrational stability; 4) A series of four pairs of super-polished off-axis parabolic (OAP) mirrors with a relatively wide FOV by matched OAP clocking; 5) an advanced very broadband (0.5-1.7μm) ADC design; 6) A Pyramid (PWFS), and post-coronagraphic LOWFS NCP wavefront sensor; 7) a vAPP coronagraph for starlight suppression. Currently all the OAPs have just been delivered, and all the rest of the optics are in the lab. Most of the major mechanical parts are in the lab or instrument, and alignment of the optics has occurred for some of the optics (like the PWFS) and most of the mounts. First light should be in early 2019.
The Magellan Extreme Adaptive Optics (MagAO-X) is a visible-wavelength adaptive optics (AO) instrument optimized for visible light coronagraphy and exoplanet imaging with the 6.5-m Magellan Clay telescope in Chile. Extremely large telescopes such as the future Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be able to image earth-like exoplanets, given an extreme AO system - such as MagAO-X - exists. MagAO-X is now under development in the lab and undergoing final integration and testing. Technical first light is planned for early 2019, with final commissioning in late 2020. A crucial component to MagAO-X is the “K-mirror,” a 3-mirror system designed to rotate the optical field with minimal image wobble or distortion about the optical axis. The K-mirror rotates on a miniature motorized stage to stabilize the pupil in the coronagraph as the telescope tracks the sky. The optical design of MagAO-X required a very compact K-mirror, resulting in a challenging opto-mechanical mount design. We present a novel solution to the compact design of a 50mm max envelope K-mirror for MagAO-X that consists of three < 1-in diameter flat mirrors, all precision glued in place. The K-mirror mount was designed in Autodesk® Fusion 360™ and a prototype was built in the Steward Observatory machine shop. Using inexpensive COTS mirrors, the K-mirror prototype was tested, aligned, and glued with optical feedback in the lab. Once the prototype had proven successful, a final K-mirror mount was fabricated and assembled with invar and precision (0.1nm rms surface roughness, super polished, λ/40 PV flat) mirrors to develop a compact Kmirror for MagAO-X. The performance of the final hardware is presented here.
Adaptive optics systems correct atmospheric turbulence in real time. Most adaptive optics systems used routinely correct in the near infrared, at wavelengths greater than 1 μm. MagAO- X is a new extreme adaptive optics (ExAO) instrument that will offer corrections at visible-to- near-IR wavelengths. MagAO-X will achieve Strehl ratios of ≥70% at Hα when running the 2040 actuator deformable mirror at 3.6 kHz. A visible pyramid wavefront sensor (PWFS) optimized for sensing at 600-1000 nm wavelengths will provide the high-order wavefront sensing on MagAO-X. We present the optical design and predicted performance of the MagAO-X pyramid wavefront sensor.
MagAO-X is an entirely new extreme adaptive optics system for the Magellan Clay 6.5 m telescope, funded by the NSF MRI program starting in Sep 2016. The key science goal of MagAO-X is high-contrast imaging of accreting protoplanets at Hα. With 2040 actuators operating at up to 3630 Hz, MagAO-X will deliver high Strehls (> 70%), high resolution (19 mas), and high contrast (< 1 × 10-4 ) at Hα (656 nm). We present an overview of the MagAO-X system, review the system design, and discuss the current project status.
The Arizona Lenslet for Exoplanet Spectroscopy (ALES) has been conceived of as an integral field spectrograph (IFS) that can be integrated with the existing 1-5 micron imaging camera LBTI/LMIRcam. Retrofitting an IFS to an existing camera poses interesting optical design issues. We have developed four reflective magnifier designs to create the proper scale for each spaxel of the IFS across the operational wavelengths of ALES. The lenslet design utilizes the flexible nature of silicon etching to provide aberration correction of images across the field of view that are introduced by inserting these magnifiers into the existing LMIRcam optical system. Finally, direct vision prism designs have been developed to provide suitable dispersion modes for the reference science cases of ALES.
High-speed optical photometry is characterizing man made satellites and space debris in Earth orbit. Commercially available Electron Multiplying CCD (EMCCD) imagers and cameras are driving a renaissance in this field, with several new instruments under development. The Steward Observatory Chimera Photometer provides simultaneous three-color photometry in the Sloan r’, i’, and z’ bands over a wide field of view. The design is optimized for the Steward Observatory Kuiper 1.58 m Telescope, although other telescopes can be supported with the exchange of the wide-field collimator. In this paper, the design and first light performance of the instrument is presented.
The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer uses a near-infrared camera to measure the optical path length variations between the two AO-corrected apertures and provide high-angular resolution observations for all its science channels (1.5-13 microns). There is however a wavelength dependent component to the atmospheric turbulence, which can introduce optical path length errors when observing at a wavelength different from that of the fringe sensing camera. Water vapor in particular is highly dispersive and its effect must be taken into account for high-precision infrared interferometric observations as described previously for VLTI/MIDI or the Keck Interferometer Nuller. In this paper, we describe the new sensing approach that has been developed at the LBT to measure and monitor the optical path length fluctuations due to dry air and water vapor separately. After reviewing the current performance of the system for dry air seeing compensation, we present simultaneous H-, K-, and N-band observations that illustrate the feasibility of our feedforward approach to stabilize the path length fluctuations seen by the LBTI nuller.
The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a high spatial resolution instrument developed for coherent imaging and nulling interferometry using the 14.4 m baseline of the 2×8.4 m LBT. The unique telescope design, comprising of the dual apertures on a common elevation-azimuth mount, enables a broad use of observing modes. The full system is comprised of dual adaptive optics systems, a near-infrared phasing camera, a 1-5 μm camera (called LMIRCam), and an 8-13 μm camera (called NOMIC). The key program for LBTI is the Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS), a survey using nulling interferometry to constrain the typical brightness from exozodiacal dust around nearby stars. Additional observations focus on the detection and characterization of giant planets in the thermal infrared, high spatial resolution imaging of complex scenes such as Jupiter's moon, Io, planets forming in transition disks, and the structure of active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). Several instrumental upgrades are currently underway to improve and expand the capabilities of LBTI. These include: Improving the performance and limiting magnitude of the parallel adaptive optics systems; quadrupling the field of view of LMIRcam (increasing to 20"x20"); adding an integral field spectrometry mode; and implementing a new algorithm for path length correction that accounts for dispersion due to atmospheric water vapor. We present the current architecture and performance of LBTI, as well as an overview of the upgrades.
We present here SOUL: the Single conjugated adaptive Optics Upgrade for LBT. Soul will upgrade the wavefront sensors replacing the existing CCD detector with an EMCCD camera and the rest of the system in order to enable the closed loop operations at a faster cycle rate and with higher number of slopes. Thanks to reduced noise, higher number of pixel and framerate, we expect a gain (for a given SR) around 1.5–2 magnitudes at all wavelengths in the range 7.5 <mR <18. The correction at short wavelength will be greatly improved (SR>70% in I-band and 0.6asec seeing) and the sky coverage will be multiplied by a factor 5 at all galactic latitudes. Upgrading the SCAO systems at all the 4 focal stations, SOUL will provide these benefits in 2017 to the LBTI interferometer and in 2018 to the 2 LUCI NIR spectro-imagers. In the same year the SOUL correction will be exploited also by the new generation of LBT instruments: V-SHARK, SHARK-NIR and iLocater.
Aperture synthesis imaging techniques using an interferometer provide a means to achieve imagery with spatial resolution equivalent to a conventional filled aperture telescope at a significantly reduced size, weight and cost, an important implication for air- and space-borne persistent observing platforms. These concepts have been realized in SIRII (Space-based IR-imaging interferometer), a new light-weight, compact SWIR and MWIR imaging interferometer designed for space-based surveillance. The sensor design is configured as a six-element Fizeau interferometer; it is scalable, light-weight, and uses structural components and main optics made of carbon fiber replicated polymer (CFRP) that are easy to fabricate and inexpensive. A three-element prototype of the SIRII imager has been constructed. The optics, detectors, and interferometric signal processing principles draw on experience developed in ground-based astronomical applications designed to yield the highest sensitivity and resolution with cost-effective optical solutions. SIRII is being designed for technical intelligence from geo-stationary orbit. It has an instantaneous 6 x 6 mrad FOV and the ability to rapidly scan a 6x6 deg FOV, with a minimal SNR. The interferometric design can be scaled to larger equivalent filled aperture, while minimizing weight and costs when compared to a filled aperture telescope with equivalent resolution. This scalability in SIRII allows it address a range of IR-imaging scenarios.
Integral field spectrographs are an important technology for exoplanet imaging, due to their ability to take spectra in a high-contrast environment, and improve planet detection sensitivity through spectral differential imaging. ALES is the first integral field spectrograph capable of imaging exoplanets from 3-5 μm, and will extend our ability to characterize self-luminous exoplanets into a wavelength range where they peak in brightness. ALES is installed inside LBTI/LMIRcam on the Large Binocular Telescope, taking advantage of existing AO systems, camera optics, and a HAWAII-2RG detector. The new optics that comprise ALES are a Keplerian magnifier, a silicon lenslet array with diffraction suppressing pinholes, a direct vision prism, and calibration optics. All of these components are installed in filter wheels making ALES a completely modular design. ALES saw first light at the LBT in June 2015.
The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a strategic instrument of the LBT designed for highsensitivity, high-contrast, and high-resolution infrared (1.5-13 μm) imaging of nearby planetary systems. To carry out a wide range of high-spatial resolution observations, it can combine the two AO-corrected 8.4-m apertures of the LBT in various ways including direct (non-interferometric) imaging, coronagraphy (APP and AGPM), Fizeau imaging, non-redundant aperture masking, and nulling interferometry. It also has broadband, narrowband, and spectrally dispersed capabilities. In this paper, we review the performance of these modes in terms of exoplanet science capabilities and describe recent instrumental milestones such as first-light Fizeau images (with the angular resolution of an equivalent 22.8-m telescope) and deep interferometric nulling observations.
We present the first observations obtained with the L'-band AGPM vortex coronagraph recently installed on LBTI/LMIRCam. The AGPM (Annular Groove Phase Mask) is a vector vortex coronagraph made from diamond subwavelength gratings. It is designed to improve the sensitivity and dynamic range of high-resolution imaging at very small inner working angles, down to 0.09 arcseconds in the case of LBTI/LMIRCam in the L' band. During the first hours on sky, we observed the young A5V star HR8799 with the goal to demonstrate the AGPM performance and assess its relevance for the ongoing LBTI planet survey (LEECH). Preliminary analyses of the data reveal the four known planets clearly at high SNR and provide unprecedented sensitivity limits in the inner planetary system (down to the diffraction limit of 0.09 arcseconds).
Optical interferometry is a cost-effective means to extend the resolving power of astronomical instruments. Typically, the light from separate small and movable telescopes is brought through vacuum pipes to a central beam combiner. We are developing a new generation of AO systems to enhance the performance of interferometers in which the vacuum lines are replaced with optical fibers. The AO, included on each of the telescopes, concentrates light on the fiber inputs to achieve the greatest optical throughput. We describe the design approach to the AO systems, how their requirements differ from those of a traditional system, and how the addition of AO enables further enhancements to the design of optical interferometers.
The Thermal Infrared imager for the GMT which provides Extreme contrast and Resolution (TIGER) is intended as a
small-scale, targeted instrument capable of detecting and characterizing exoplanets and circumstellar disks, around both
young systems in formation, and more mature systems in the solar neighborhood. TIGER can also provide general
purpose infrared imaging at wavelengths from 1.5-14 μm. The instrument will utilize the facility adaptive optics (AO)
system. With its operation at NIR to MIR wavelengths (where good image quality is easier to achieve), and much of the
high-impact science using modestly bright guide stars, the instrument can be used early in the operation of the GMT.
The TIGER concept is a dual channel imager and low resolution spectrometer, with high contrast modes of observations
to fulfill the above science goals. A long wavelength channel (LWC) will cover 7-14 μm wavelength, while a short
wavelength channel (SWC) will cover the 1.5-5 μm wavelength region. Both channels will have a 30° FOV. In addition
to imaging, low-resolution spectroscopy (R=300) is possible with TIGER for both the SWC and LWC, using insertable
We report on the final design and current status of a 1-5 micron infrared test bench at the ETH Zurich Institute for
Astronomy. This facility will enable us to characterize infrared optics, both reflective and transmissive, at cryogenic
operating temperatures for both ground- and space-based applications. A focus of our lab is to facilitate the detection and characterization of extra-solar planets. The test bench is designed to characterize a range of spectrally dispersive and diffraction suppression optics such as filters, grisms, gratings, as well as both focal and pupil plane coronagraphs. The test bench is built around a 2048x2048 HAWAII-2RG detector from Teledyne Imaging Systems. The optical bench is envisioned to operate down to 30 K. “First light” is expected in the second half of 2012. We outline the status of the project, and describe the capabilities of the test bench in detail in order to alert potential collaborators to this new capability.
The Giant Magellan Telescope adaptive optics system will be an integral part of the telescope, providing laser guide star
generation, wavefront sensing, and wavefront correction to most of the currently envisioned instruments. The system
will provide three observing modes: Natural Guidestar AO (NGSAO), Laser Tomography AO (LTAO), and Ground
Layer AO (GLAO).
Every AO observing mode will use the telescope’s segmented adaptive secondary mirror to deliver a corrected beam
directly to the instruments. High-order wavefront sensing for the NGSAO and LTAO modes is provided by a set of
wavefront sensors replicated for each instrument and fed by visible light reflected off the cryostat window. An infrared
natural guidestar wavefront sensor with open-loop AO correction is also required to sense tip-tilt, focus, segment piston,
and dynamic calibration errors in the LTAO mode. GLAO mode wavefront sensing is provided by laser guidestars over
a ~5 arcminute field of view, and natural guidestars over wider fields. A laser guidestar facility will project 120 W of
589 nm laser light in 6 beacons from the periphery of the primary mirror. An off-axis phasing camera and primary and
secondary mirror metrology systems will ensure that the telescope optics remain phased.
We describe the system requirements, overall architecture, and innovative solutions found to the challenges presented by high-order AO on a segmented extremely large telescope. Further details may be found in specific papers on each of the observing modes and major subsystems.
We diamond fly cut 2 sets of germanium grisms for the LMIRcam 3-5 micron Fizeau imager for the combined focus of
the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT). The grisms mount in a filter wheel near a pupil to enable moderate resolution
(R~300) spectroscopy. Both sets have a measured blaze angle of 2.9°. The first set has a groove period of 40 lines/mm
and will be used in first order with peak efficiency at 3.6 μm. The second set has 32 lines/mm. It can operate in first
order with an efficiency peak near 4.4 μm and in second order with a peak near 2.3 μm. First results from testing the
grisms in the instrument on the sky with the LBT are presented.
ARGOS the Advanced Rayleigh guided Ground layer adaptive Optics System for the LBT (Large Binocular Telescope)
is built by a German-Italian-American consortium. It will be a seeing reducer correcting the turbulence in the lower
atmosphere over a field of 2' radius. In such way we expect to improve the spatial resolution over the seeing of about a
factor of two and more and to increase the throughput for spectroscopy accordingly. In its initial implementation,
ARGOS will feed the two near-infrared spectrograph and imager - LUCI I and LUCI II.
The system consist of six Rayleigh lasers - three per eye of the LBT. The lasers are launched from the back of the
adaptive secondary mirror of the LBT. ARGOS has one wavefront sensor unit per primary mirror of the LBT, each of the
units with three Shack-Hartmann sensors, which are imaged on one detector.
In 2010 and 2011, we already mounted parts of the instrument at the telescope to provide an environment for the main
sub-systems. The commissioning of the instrument will start in 2012 in a staged approach. We will give an overview of
ARGOS and its goals and report about the status and new challenges we encountered during the building phase. Finally
we will give an outlook of the upcoming work, how we will operate it and further possibilities the system enables by
We report the first phased images using adaptive optics correction from the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer.
LBTI achieved first fringes in late 2010, with seeing-limited operation. Initial tests verified the feasibility of the setup
and allowed us to characterize the phase variations from both the atmosphere and mechanical vibrations. Integration of
the secondary-base AO systems was carried out in spring 2011 and spring 2012 for the right and left side respectively.
Single aperture, diffraction-limited, operation has been commissioned and is used as a productive mode of the LBTI with
the LMIRCam subsystem. We describe the initial observation for dual aperture observations and coherent imaging
ARGOS, the laser-guided adaptive optics system for the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), is now under construction at
the telescope. By correcting atmospheric turbulence close to the telescope, the system is designed to deliver high
resolution near infrared images over a field of 4 arc minute diameter. Each side of the LBT is being equipped with three
Rayleigh laser guide stars derived from six 18 W pulsed green lasers and projected into two triangular constellations
matching the size of the corrected field. The returning light is to be detected by wavefront sensors that are range gated
within the seeing-limited depth of focus of the telescope. Wavefront correction will be introduced by the telescope's
deformable secondary mirrors driven on the basis of the average wavefront errors computed from the respective guide
star constellation. Measured atmospheric turbulence profiles from the site lead us to expect that by compensating the
ground-layer turbulence, ARGOS will deliver median image quality of about 0.2 arc sec across the JHK bands. This will
be exploited by a pair of multi-object near-IR spectrographs, LUCIFER1 and LUCIFER2, with 4 arc minute field already
operating on the telescope. In future, ARGOS will also feed two interferometric imaging instruments, the LBT
Interferometer operating in the thermal infrared, and LINC-NIRVANA, operating at visible and near infrared
wavelengths. Together, these instruments will offer very broad spectral coverage at the diffraction limit of the LBT's
combined aperture, 23 m in size.
We present progress and results for the pyramid wavefront sensor unit on the Large Binocular Telescope's
Interferometer (LBTI). The system is a clone of the pyramid sensor unit developed at Arcetri Observatory for
the LUCIFER instrument. We discuss the performance of simulated reconstructors during preliminary on-sky
testing at the MMT. These reconstructors were generated with the code AOSim2, a customizable end-to-end
simulator of a telescope and its AO system. We used the 3-5μm imager Clio to take fast exposures at 3.8μm, from
which we calculated Strehl Ratios (SR) for each pyramid configuration and for the Shack-Hartmann (SH) system
currently installed. We obtained instantaneous SR as high as 60% for the pyramid as compared to 65% mean for
the SH.We identify improvements which will increase the SR in future implementations. These tests demonstrate
the feasibility of commissioning a pyramid wavefront sensor on LBTI using a synthetic reconstructor.
ARGOS is the Laser Guide Star adaptive optics system for the Large Binocular Telescope. Aiming for a wide field
adaptive optics correction, ARGOS will equip both sides of LBT with a multi laser beacon system and corresponding
wavefront sensors, driving LBT's adaptive secondary mirrors. Utilizing high power pulsed green lasers the artificial
beacons are generated via Rayleigh scattering in earth's atmosphere. ARGOS will project a set of three guide stars above
each of LBT's mirrors in a wide constellation. The returning scattered light, sensitive particular to the turbulence close to
ground, is detected in a gated wavefront sensor system. Measuring and correcting the ground layers of the optical
distortions enables ARGOS to achieve a correction over a very wide field of view. Taking advantage of this wide field
correction, the science that can be done with the multi object spectrographs LUCIFER will be boosted by higher spatial
resolution and strongly enhanced flux for spectroscopy. Apart from the wide field correction ARGOS delivers in its
ground layer mode, we foresee a diffraction limited operation with a hybrid Sodium laser Rayleigh beacon combination.
The Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) is now operating with the first of two permanently installed adaptive secondary
mirrors, and the first of two complementary near-IR instruments called LUCIFER is operational as well. The ARGOS
laser-guided ground-layer adaptive optics (GLAO) system, described elsewhere at this conference1, will build on this
foundation to deliver the highest resolution over the 4 arc min
wide-field imaging and multi-object spectroscopic modes
of LUCIFER. In this paper, we describe a planned upgrade to ARGOS which will supplement the Rayleigh-based GLAO
system with sodium laser guide stars (LGS) to fulfill the telescope's diffraction-limited potential. In its narrow-field
mode of 30 arc sec, LUCIFER will deliver imaging at the Nyquist limit of the individual 8.4 m apertures down to J band
and long-slit spectroscopy with resolution up to 40,000. In addition, the LBT Interferometer2 (LBTI) will cophase the
two apertures, offering imaging at the diffraction limit of the 22.8 m baseline at wavelengths from 1.2 to 20 μm. In the
first phase of the upgrade, a 10 W sodium LGS will be added to each half of the LBT, using the same launch telescopes
mounted behind the two secondary mirrors as the Rayleigh LGS. The upgrade will rely on other components of the
ARGOS infrastructure such as acquisition and guiding, and fast
tip-tilt cameras. New wavefront sensors will be added to
LUCIFER and LBTI. In the upgrade's second phase, the sodium and Rayleigh LGS will be used together in a hybrid
tomographic sensing system. This configuration will offer the advantage that a single tip-tilt star will continue to be
sufficient even for MCAO operation3, which is planned with LBT's LINC-NIRVANA instrument4,5.
The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) has been developed and tested and is almost ready to be installed
to LBT mount. In preparation for installation, testing of the beam combination and phasing of the system have been
developed. The testing is currently in progress.
The development of a telescope simulator for LBTI has allowed verification of phasing and alignment with a broad band
source at 10 microns2. Vibration tests with the LBTI mounted to the LBT were carried out in July 2008, with both
seismic accelerometers and an internal optical interferometric measurement. The results have allowed identification of
potential vibration sources on the telescope. Plans for a Star Simulator that illuminates each LBT aperture at the prime
focus with two artificial point sources derived from a single point source via fiber optics are presented. The Star
Simulator will allow testing of LBTI with the telescope and the adaptive secondaries in particular. Testing with the Star
Simulator will allow system level testing of LBTI on the telescope, without need to use on-sky time. Testing of the Star
Simulator components are presented to verify readiness for use with the LBTI.
We report on the final design and the fabrication status of LMIRcam - a mid-infrared imager/spectrograph that will
operate behind the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) primarily at wavelengths between 3 and 5um (the
astronomical L- and M-bands). Within LMIRcam a pair of diamond-turned biconic mirrors re-images a ten arcsecond
square field onto a 1024x1024 HAWAII-1RG 5.1um cutoff array. The re-imaging optics provide two pupil planes for
the placement of filters and grisms as well as an intermediate image plane. Flexible readout electronics enable operating
modes ranging from high frame rate broadband imaging at the longest wavelengths to low background R=400
spectroscopy at shorter wavelengths. The LBTI will provide LMIRcam with a diffraction limited two-mirror PSF with
first null dictated by the 14.4 meter separation of the two LBT mirror centers (22.8 meter baseline from edge to edge).
The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer, a thermal infrared imager and nulling interferometer for the LBT, is
currently being integrated and tested at Steward Observatory. The system consists of a general purpose or universal
beamcombiner (UBC) and three camera ports, one of which is populated currently by the Nulling and Imaging Camera
(NIC). Wavefront sensing is carried out using pyramid-based "W" units developed at Arcetri Observatory. The system
is designed for high spatial resolution, high dynamic range imaging in the thermal infrared. A key project for the
program is to survey nearby stars for debris disks down to levels which may obscure detection of Earth-like planets.
During 2007-2008 the UBC portion of the LBTI was assembled and tested at Steward Observatory. Initial integration of
the system with the LBT is currently in progress as the W units and NIC are being completed in parallel.
The Nulling and Imaging Camera is the main science camera being developed for use with the LBTI. The camera has two science channels: an 8-13 um wavelength Nulling Optimized Mid-Infrared Camera (NOMIC) and a 3-5 micron imaging camera, dubbed LMIRCam. The NIC cryostat also houses a K band fast readout camera (Phasecam) to sense
phase variations between the LBT apertures and carry out closed loop correction. The design, comprising these three components, is housed in a single cryostat cooled by a mechanical pulse-tube coldhead. The optical design uses diamond-turned biconical mirrors to realize diffraction-limited performance in a compact space. A range of cryogenic actuators and alignment mechanisms have been developed to carry out fine alignment of the interferometer and to feed
the several channels of NIC.
The original testing and calibration of the adaptive optics system at the MMT Observatory was done with a large scale telescope simulator. This allowed testing the entire system in closed loop, including the adaptive secondary and the wavefront sensor optics. This was an effective way to perform the initial development and calibration of the system, but it is impractical to maintain such a large system for routine calibration of the adaptive secondary. Since it is a convex asphere, it cannot be tested with simple methods such as placing a point source at the center of curvature. The MMT AO Test Stand is a compact system that allows testing the convex aspheric secondary. It can be used to update the calibration of the thin shell secondary mirror as well as allowing development of new capabilities such as higher performance control loops and chopping. The test stand is small enough to fit in the clean room used for routine mirror storage and maintenance. Design, alignment, and testing results are presented.