It began, as all these things do, with a phone call from Liz…
“What is stuck?”
“SFP won’t move in K2AO.”
“Do not try to move it any further, I am up tomorrow for SegEx, I will go look at it.”
Last time we tried to free up the SFP stage when it was stuck we carved an L shaped gouge in the cover plate. This is the hazard of optics that move under computer control. We tell the computer to move these optics under the assumption that the encoder position indication is correct, sometimes it is not. In reality there is no way to actually see where the stage is, an optical assembly moving deep within the AO optical bench. For most of the optical stages this is not a problem, if the encoder is not correct you can just reinitialize it and regain the position, the stage can not actually hit anything.
SFP is different, it can crash into the rotator if it gets lost. There is no real way to fix this issue, it has to be this way. SFP stands for Simulator Fiber Positioner, an artificial star created with a optical fiber. Placing the tip of the fiber at the telescope focus creates a bright dot of light that we can use to align and calibrate the AO system. The three axis stage can move the fiber into the light path and accurately position it just where you need it for system tests. There is also a diagonal mirror used to inject light from the telescope simulator and the spectral calibration source mounted atop the simulator.