We describe the design and the early results of a feasibility experiment for sodium-layer laser-guide-star adaptive optics. Copper-vapor-laser-pumped dye lasers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation program are used to create the guide star. The laser beam is projected upward from a beam director that is located ~5 m from a 0.5-m telescope and forms an irradiance spot ~2 m in diameter at the atmospheric-sodium layer (at an altitude of 95 km). The laser guide star is approximately fifth magnitude and is visible to the naked eye at the top of the Rayleigh-scattered laser beam. To date, we have made photometric measurements and open-loop wave-front-sensor measurements of the laser guide star. We give an overview of the experiment’s design and the laser systems, describe the experimental setup, show preliminary photometric and open-loop wave-front-sensor data on the guide star, and present predictions of closed-loop adaptive-optics performance based on these experimental data. The long-term goal of this effort is to develop laser guide stars and adaptive optics for use with large astronomical telescopes.
© 1994 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: November 11, 1992
Revised Manuscript: September 22, 1993
Manuscript Accepted: June 28, 1993
Published: February 1, 1994
C. E. Max, K. Avicola, J. M. Brase, H. W. Friedman, H. D. Bissinger, J. Duff, D. T. Gavel, J. A. Horton, R. Kiefer, J. R. Morris, S. S. Olivier, R. W. Presta, D. A. Rapp, J. T. Salmon, and K. E. Waltjen, "Design, layout, and early results of a feasibility experiment for sodium-layer laser-guide-star adaptive optics," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 11, 813-824 (1994)