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Last Wednesday, Feb 9, the team working on the new science camera system, Sinistro, got their first light image. This is a huge accomplishment, congratulations to the team!
Sinistro will be the main science instrument on the 1-meter telescopes. It consists of a 16 million pixel high sensitivity camera, a 21 position filter wheel with integral photometric shutter, and a high speed off axis autoguider. Additionally the instrument has three additional ports designed to support a medium resolution spectrograph (MRES) fiber feed and a high-speed photometry camera (LuckyOne). Projected on the sky, Sinistro's pixels are 0.39 arcseconds across with a total field of view of 26.6 arcminutes square.The Sinistro camera consists of a 4096 X 4097 X 15 um pixel Fairchild Imaging CCD486, an LCOGT designed vacuum cryostat with integral gauge and ion pump, a closed cycle cryogenic refrigerator, and an LCOGT designed CCD controller. The controller uses a novel DC coupled design to remove the large DC level present on the output signal. It also does the typical filtering (integration) in the digital domain so that readout speed, dynamic range, digital sampling, and spatial resolution can be optimized on a program specific basis. The prototype supports four channels of input at up to 1 Mpix/s/channel sampling, although it is presently being run at about 400 kpix/s aggregate throughput.First image with Sinistro camera (bottom right). A 1 s exposure at approximately f/64. The electronics lab lights were off and only a desk lamp was illuminating the scene. The hand of LCOGT science director, Tim Brown, is for scale. Pixels are analog binned 4x4 for faster readout, and the camera is operating at a relatively warm -15 'C for testing purposes. The readout was done through four amplifiers in parallel (in the corners) and the dark bands separating quadrants are overscan pixels that are not part of the physical array. The vertical banding is likely a result of improperly tuned parallel clocks, and the faint splotches in the upper portion of the image are regions of lower sensitivity on the detector.
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