Robert M. Albarran graduated from the American School Foundation in Mexico City. After studying biology at Suffolk University, he transferred to the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo to study astronomy. Today, Robert is a planetarium operator at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i. Robert also gives summit and star tours at the Visitor Information Station of Mauna Kea, coordinates the Sigma Alpha Pi chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and enjoys discussing breakthroughs in space science. Robert plans to pursue a PhD in cosmology and to push the frontiers of early universe cosmology.
Home Island: Mainland
Institution when accepted: University of Hawai’i at Hilo
Akamai Project: Characterization of a Segmented Deformable Mirror Using Phase-Diversity
Project Site: Subaru Telescope
Mentor: Frantz Martinache
Density variations in the Earth’s atmosphere, due to atmospheric convection and turbulence, yield astronomical images with poor spatial resolution, preventing large telescopes from achieving their ideal diffraction-limited high resolution. Today, large optical and infrared ground-based observatories use a technique known as Adaptive Optics (AO) to correct for the distortion of light induced by our atmosphere, thereby producing diffraction-limited images. Deformable Mirrors (DM) and wavefront-control devices are critical AO system components, from which more and more is being demanded. During my internship at Subaru Telescope, I have designed and assembled an optical bench to characterize the surface quality of one such DM with 37 individual segments, each of which may be driven in piston and tip-tilt. I characterized the DM by using the technique of phase-diversity: by programming a CCD camera to take a series of images, in and out of focus, of the reflected light of the DM, an algorithm developed at Subaru may then be used to drive the DM. This DM optical configuration will serve as a testbed for advanced wavefront-control techniques in part of the extreme-AO system currently being assembled at Subaru. Future implications of segmented mirror technology may extend to projects such as the Thirty Meter Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.