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Instrumentation Projects


As a key member of the MIRC-X consortium, I have had the opportunity to address these issues directly. In 2018 I was involved in commissioning the upgraded MIRC-X instrument (Anugu et al. 2020), which involved replacing almost all the optics. This work was carried out during a long-term attachment to the University of Michigan. As a result, I was able to record the first 6-telescope observations of a young stellar object. Consequently, I have been the driving force behind the commissioning of the J-band (1.05-1.35 μm) observing mode of MIRC-X (Labdon et al. 2020). The aim was to conduct simultaneous H and J band observations. This was achieved through the use of longitudinal atmospheric dispersion compensators, wedges of glass that can move in and out of the beam. The control software was developed and the testing, observations and data reduction processes were all undertaken personally. In November 2019 I successfully completed the first observations in this new mode of the object FU Orionis (Labdon et al. 2021). This represented the first J-band interferometric observations of a YSO


I coordinated a project in direct collaboration with CHARA to significantly improve the baseline solution. This is a model of the parameters of the array where the telescope positions and beam paths are modelled to nanometer precision. This allows for smaller and more repeatable delay line offsets, vital for observations of difficult objects. Following this work, CHARA now regularly allocates baseline solution nights in order to track long-term changes in the array geometry.


Since joining ESO, I became heavily involved in the GRAVITY instrument, undertaking projects such as improving the GRAVITY test plan to make it more robust and include new modes while also looking at the long-term stability of different calibration products. I have also had the opportunity to participate in many commissioning activities for GRAVITY+, particularly the GRAVITY-wide and GRAVITY-faint modes, working closely with consortium members to test and troubleshoot the instrument in real time. My in-depth knowledge of GRAVITY and VLTI will become instrumental in the coming years as GRAVITY+ ramps up. Additionally, over the past year, I have been deeply involved in the SCUBA project: the QC0 and monitoring system used at Paranal to grade observations. My particular work has been to bring SCUBA to the VLTI for the first time and requires detailed knowledge of interferometric data and its reduction and calibration, as well as good Python skills. SCUBA is an ongoing project with much work remaining before the VLTI fully integrates into SCUBA. My knowledge of the system and the requirements of the VLTI will be crucial for the completion of this project and future SCUBA maintenance and updates. 

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