Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Space News, Technology News, Current Events, Laser Light Video


June 4, 2011 --  Discovery News reported on the commissioning of the Keck 1 adaptive optics laser, giving the observatory a second telescope the ability to compensate for atmospheric aberrations. In this new portrait of three of the 12 telescope systems at the summit of Mauna Kea, on Big Island, Hawai'i, the twin domes of the Keck telescopes and the Japanese Subaru telescope are all observing the night sky . with their adaptive optics lasers in operation. This is a dazzling array of new space technology that sure to bring us some fantastic pictures and information very soon. 

Lasers 3 over Mauna Kea from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo.

Andrew Cooper, electrical engineer at Keck Observatory, captured this view from the location of another Mauna Kea telescope, the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) on the summit ridge. Cooper combined 23 photographs, each with 1 minute exposures, producing a photograph alive with star trails (as the Earth rotated for 23 minutes) and yellow lasers cutting through the sky.

"During the exposure, the Keck 2 laser [far right] is aimed right over the camera at the Milky Way's galactic core," Cooper told Discovery News. As the Earth rotated for those 23 minutes, the laser beam stayed focused on the center of our galaxy, making the laser appear "thicker" than the other two adaptive optics lasers on Subaru and Keck 1.

Going one step further, Cooper decided to create a short, yet dazzling time-lapse video of the trio of lasers in operation. The result is shown below. "The video is all 91 exposures, animated at 10 fps, thus 90 minutes are compressed to 9 seconds," Cooper said. This new technology aimed at space will bring us information that has not been available in the past. 

-- by Ian O'Neill

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