Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Laser Frequency Comb at SALT!

A week ago today we were joined at SALT by Derryck Reid (left) & Richard McCracken (right) from the Ultrafast Optics group at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.  
Laser lads in action!
Their experimental laser frequency comb (LFC) had arrived in the country ahead of them & was safely transported up to Sutherland on 19 April.  The plan being to set up & couple the comb to SALT's High Resolution Spectrograph (HRS) for a 3 month field trial.
LFC safe & sound in Sutherland
This project's hugely exciting for all concerned!  SALT gets to work with & learn about a state-of-the-art calibration device that will allow us to exploit the HRS's full potential as a precision radial velocity instrument.  While the H-W team gets to test their lab instrument in a realistic operational environment, & obtain high quality astronomical data that will inform the refinement of frequency comb designs for astronomical applications.
Light & magic fills the HRS electronics room
It's also incredibly stimulating & productive for people from widely different scientific disciplines to get to interact intensively in pursuit of such complementary interests.  Given all that's happened in just a week, we're already all looking forward to what could unfold over the coming months & years!

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