Progress on the GPI exoplanet imager integration

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a next generation adaptive optics instrument being built for the Gemini Observatory. This is an ambitious project with the goal of directly imaging extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. The instrument is currently being integrated at the University of California at Santa Cruz. After more than a year of testing in a fixed orientation in a clean room, on March 7, 2013, the 2,030 kg instrument was set up on a crane and flexure rig. In collaboration with the UCSC team, we prepared this time lapse video showing GPI being set up in its new position.

GPI instrument being set up on its flexure jig mounting (Credit: GPI consortium)

Nili Patera

A piece of Mars: Nili Patera on Mars is an ancient volcano. Some of the old volcanic material has been blown into rather striking sand dunes. It is the first place where dunes were conclusively identified as actively moving. Here’s a closeup of one of them — the steep slip face on the downwind side