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Arrayed wide-field astronomical camera system for spectroscopic surveys on Extremely Large Telescopes: system architecture, proof-of-concept, and enabling technologies
Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems  (IF1.436),  Pub Date : 2021-08-01, DOI: 10.1117/1.jatis.7.3.035007
Hanshin Lee, Menelaos K. Poutous

The next generation Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) are promising a profound transformation of humanity’s understanding of the universe by opening our eyes to a myriad of previously unseen astronomical objects across cosmic space time. Some of the key observational contributions to this transformation will, once again, be made through large-scale ultradeep spectroscopic surveys. Such surveys will call for a wide-field system to expand field of view and correct atmospheric dispersion beyond what an uncorrected ELT is canonically capable of. Although the traditional monolithic form of field correctors served our needs very well on 2- to 8-m class telescopes, we recognize challenges around scaling this traditional design to the ELT level, and hence, as detailed here, present a fundamentally different architecture, called the arrayed wide-field astronomical corrector system or AWACS, for the ELTs of two-mirror construction. The AWACS accomplishes field expansion via an array of small units populated over a telescope’s focal surface, compensating for field aberrations and atmospheric dispersion locally but simultaneously. The AWACS units share one common electro-opto-mechanical design, permitting cost-effective high-volume part manufacturing. We detail the architectural features and proof-of-concept on-sky demonstration of the AWACS. In addition, we highlight our recent development results of randomly nano-textured antireflective (AR) surface structures in terms of an immediately viable, super-broadband, high-performance AR solution for not only the AWACS optics, but also broader ranges of electro-optical devices, particularly those subjected to harsh environments such as high-power laser, cryogenic, and space systems. With continuous advances in other relevant fields, the AWACS is uniquely positioned to enable, either by itself or by complementing traditional correctors, wide-field multi-object spectroscopic surveys in the ELT era and beyond.