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Proceedings Paper

Sodium layer monitoring at Calar Alto by LIDAR
Author(s): David James Butler; Richard I. Davies; Hayden Fews; R. Michael Redfern; Nancy Ageorges; Wolfgang K. P. Hackenberg; Ralf-Rainer Rohloff; Sebastian Rabien; Thomas Ott; Stefan Hippler
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Paper Abstract

Observations have shown the presence of sodium layer centroid height variations of a few hundred meters on timescales of tens of seconds. As quality laser guide star (LGS) plus adaptive optics (AO) assisted astronomy, especially on large (8m+) telescopes, will require optimal scheduling of observations and regular laser and wavefront sensor focusing at sites where sporadic sodium layers are frequent, an 'easy to use' sodium layer monitor is required. LIDAR offers a convenient means to achieve this. By pulsing the outgoing sodium laser and performing time-of-flight measurements on the returned photons we can acquire the altitude profile of the sodium layer. Unfortunately, conventional LIDAR requires the laser duty cycle to be very low, therefore large integration times are required. However, by using a cross-correlation technique the duty cycle can be increased to 50%, which gives far better performance. We present the details of this technique which involved amplitude modulation of the MPIA/MPE ALFA cw laser, as well as the following results of such LIDAR measurements performed in October 1999 at the 3.5 m telescope at Calar Alto Observatory in Spain. The altitude of the sodium layer at Calar Alto on 17th and 18th October 1999 was found to be at 90 +/- 3 km and there is evidence for sporadics on one of two nights with sporadic layer FWHM* varying from approximately 240 to 350 m. In addition, a noticeable layer FWHM change (excluding the sporadic layer) from approximately 13 to approximately 5 - 7 km was observed over the two nights. After flux and altitude calibration and correction of the projected altitude range, a very good agreement is found between sodium layer profiles derived from an auxiliary telescope and 3.5 m telescope LIDAR observations. Using an intensity weighted centroid algorithm the centroid height of the sodium layer was observed to have a variation of < 500 m in approximately 10 minutes. Although, shorter timescale variations may be have been present, poor observing conditions and resulting reduced S/N prevents this analysis.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 July 2000
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 4007, Adaptive Optical Systems Technology, (7 July 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.390318
Show Author Affiliations
David James Butler, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Extraterrestriche Physik (Germany)
Richard I. Davies, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Extraterrestriche Physik (Germany)
Hayden Fews, National Univ. of Ireland/Galway (Ireland)
R. Michael Redfern, National Univ. of Ireland/Galway (Ireland)
Nancy Ageorges, National Univ. of Ireland/Galway (Chile)
Wolfgang K. P. Hackenberg, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Ralf-Rainer Rohloff, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astronomie (Germany)
Sebastian Rabien, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Extraterrestriche Physik (Germany)
Thomas Ott, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Extraterrestriche Physik (Germany)
Stefan Hippler, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astronomie (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4007:
Adaptive Optical Systems Technology
Peter L. Wizinowich, Editor(s)

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