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Improved Pointing Tracking for the VERITAS Gamma-Ray Telescopes

Semester: Summer 2023


Presentation description

The VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) Telescopes, located in southern Arizona consists of a group of four 12m optical reflectors in order to study gamma rays at very high energies (VHE: 50 GeV - 50 TeV). The telescope are also used to perform optical measurements of the angular diameters of stars. This latter capability has substantially more stringent star tracking requirements that exceed the requirements for gamma-ray observations. My research for the summer consisted of creating physical hardware and a program for an automated star tracking system. The initial makeup of the hardware uses multiple 3D printed pieces that is planned to be installed at each telescope camera. The front piece will go on top of the photomultiplier tube (PMT) which will have 16 equally spaced optical fibers around the sensor area. The fibers lead to a solid 3D printed piece off to the side of the camera that condenses the fibers into a more compact circular array that is then focused by a lens and read out by a Basler CMOS camera. The camera program will then take pictures periodically to read out the light intensity of each individual fiber. The light intensity pattern is analyzed to calculate the alignment of the telescope pointing to the observed star. If the star is out of alignment, the system will automatically calculate pointing corrections to realign the telescopes with the observed star. The current method of manually recorrecting the positions is rather cumbersome, is subject to operator error, and often leads to unwanted biases in the stellar observations. This automated alignment process is expected to improve the quality and consistency of the stellar observations by eliminating small pointing drifts.

Presenter Name: Espen Nelson

Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #92
College: Science
School / Department: Physics & Astronomy
Research Mentor: David Kieda
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 10:30 AM