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Gemini Planet Imager
post Jan 7 2014, 07:36 PM
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First pictures of the Gemini Planet Imager :
-Beta Pictoris b, a planet orbiting the star Beta Pictoris
-A disk of dust orbiting the young star HR4796A


These images are incredible !!

“Even these early first-light images are almost a factor of 10 better than the previous generation of instruments. In one minute, we are seeing planets that used to take us an hour to detect,” says Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who led the team that built the instrument.

I can't wait to see more !!

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post Jan 7 2014, 08:22 PM
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That is incredible, and the mention of using it to image clouds on Titan is a nice tease, too.

Homepage for the instrument appears to be here:

Can't say I understand a lot of the instrument terms, but it sure sounds like pushing adaptive optics into the coronagraph, which is neat. Also interesting is that this ball started rolling in 2005:
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post Jan 11 2014, 10:11 PM
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Most of the modern big telescopes with Adaptive optics (AO) have some coronograph, but GPI and similar instruments are special.
Thanks to use of so called extreme AO they can use coronographs in much more efficient way.
Two such instruments are working now - new GPI and older Project 1640 on the Palomar's 5-meter telescope.
Third, SPHERE (ESO), expects first light at the end of this year.
All of these instruments can ordinarily image planets which are 1,000,000-10,000,000× less bright than the nearby star (in older instruments this factor was/is 10,000-100,000×).

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post Jan 14 2014, 03:04 PM
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Yes this is outstanding, I remember a time not so far back when "knowledgeable" people claimed anything like this would be impossible to achieve with telescopes on Earth. I noted they talked about "observations that could help in following surface alterations on icy satellites of Jupiter" while showing one image of Europa it seem to be a hint of a possibility discussed in another thread of this forum.
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post Aug 21 2014, 11:04 PM
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An interesting presentation by David Vega during the NSF REU student presentation sessions at the SETI Institute recently included some test images taken by the GPI, including a rather impressive image of Pallas.
The presentation is here:


Relevant image is at 16:50

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Phil Stooke
post Aug 22 2014, 04:01 AM
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Wow! That's quite an image - let's hope we see it applied to Pluto and Ceres soon, while it is still useful to do so.


... because the Solar System ain't gonna map itself.
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