DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Starfire laser beam. Time exposure image of a copper vapour laser beam (green) being projected by a 1.5-metre telescope at the Starfire Optical Range (SOR). This laser creates an artificial 'star' in the upper atmosphere, within the field of view of the SOR's main 3.5-metre telescope. The latter detects any change in shape of the artificial 'star' due to air turbulence, and uses a flexible adaptive optics mirror to compensate. This effectively counters the familiar 'twinkling' of stars, and offers highly-improved resolution over conventional ground-based observatories. The SOR was developed by a team led by Robert Fugate and was built in New Mexico, USA.
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