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The Gemini MCAO
Science Case Workshop

In collaboration with the Gemini National Project Offices and the Center for Adaptive Optics, Gemini is organizing a workshop to explore the scientific opportunities for MCAO, quantify its advantages over current and planned conventionnal AO systems for a comprehensive set of science case and to define the requirements for its related instruments. This workshop will take place at the headquarters of CfAO, Santa Cruz, on October 23-25.

The Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics system (MCAO) is a proposed instrument for Cerro Pachon that will deliver diffraction-limited images, with a uniform image quality over a one arc minute field of view. It does so by using several deformable mirrors opticaly conjugated at different altitudes and five wavefront sensors using laser beacons as their guide sources, to measure and compensate for the turbulence-induced phase aberrations in three dimensions. This new technique not only increases the compensated field of view by an order of magnitude or more, provides a uniform point spread function over this field, but also solves for the cone effect, a consequence of the use of lasers as guide stars, which in classical AO laser system reduces the performance at short wavelengths on large telescopes. In addition to the 10 fold gain in angular resolution, MCAO also pushes the detection limit by 1.7 magnitudes on unresolved objects with respect to seeing limited images. This instrument on Gemini provides a unique way to explore NGST-class science as soon as its commissionning in 2005. More detailled information about the MCAO instrument and its expected performance can be found here.

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Last update September 6, 2000; Francois Rigaut