SAN DIEGO – 01 Nov 2022 - General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that its Adaptive Optics (AO) system on the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) 1-meter Castor telescope enabled the discovery of a previously unknown binary star. During initial on-sky testing that directed the telescope toward the star HIP 91780, the AO system demonstrated its ability to detect dim, closely spaced objects when the team discovered the previously undetected companion star. Intended to support space domain awareness missions, GA-EMS’ AO system is the first AO system to be successfully integrated and demonstrated on the AFRL Castor telescope located at Starfire Optical Range, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
“HIP 91780 is a catalogued single star over 200 light years from Earth. Our AO system successfully corrected for aberrations in the images caused by the earth’s atmosphere, resulting in a greatly improved image resolution of HIP 91780 and the surprising discovery of a new binary star,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “This discovery illustrates the significant capabilities our AO system can provide for the identification of dim, high-contrast, closely spaced objects to support future space domain awareness applications.”
Under contract with AFRL, GA-EMS developed, built, and delivered the AO system for integration and demonstration on the 1-meter Castor telescope. Optical beams propagating through the atmosphere become distorted by atmospheric turbulence. GA-EMS’ AO system precisely measures the distortion and dynamically corrects the turbulence effects resulting in improved performance and image resolution.
“We are extremely proud to be the first AO system integrated on the Castor telescope, providing us with a distinct opportunity to successfully showcase the system’s capability and functionality to meet AFRL’s intended objectives,” continued Forney. “We look forward to upgrading and further demonstrating our AO system to meet additional imaging objectives in the future.”
GA-EMS brings a depth of expertise in the design, fabrication and operation of tracking and AO systems for space domain awareness. The company continues to expand and enhance optical and sensor capabilities with advanced AO technologies to support applications across multiple domains, including optical communications, weapon systems, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
About General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) Group is a global leader in the research, design, and manufacture of first-of-a-kind electromagnetic and electric power generation systems. GA-EMS’ history of research, development, and technology innovation has led to an expanding portfolio of specialized products and integrated system solutions supporting aviation, space systems and satellites, missile defense, power and energy, and processing and monitoring applications for critical defense, industrial, and commercial customers worldwide. For further information, visit www.ga.com/ems