2019 TECI Projects

Through the TMT Early-Career Initiative (TECI), TMT partners can engage graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and other junior-level professionals in their projects. TECI helps match people and projects, and is creating an infrastructure that will increase collaboration across the TMT partnership.

Following the December 2018 TECI Workshop, five teams comprising 20 workshop participants were approved to collaborate remotely on TECI mini-projects in 2019, with a project consultant.  An additional mini-project was completed during the 2018 Workshop.  Details on the approved projects and teams are below.

Click here to return to the general TECI Projects page.

Design Drivers for the TMT Data Archive

Project Team: Aditi Agarwal (Indian Institute of Astrophysics)

   Misa Aoki (European Southern Observatory)

   Ricky Nilsson (Caltech)

   Ruchika Seth (Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics)

   Paolo Turri (University of California, Berkeley)

   Olivia Wilkins (Caltech)

Project Consultants: Warren Skidmore (TMT International Observatory)

 Fransicso Delgado (TMT International Observatory)

The current TMT International Observatory (TIO) operations plan is “to store all raw science and calibration data, with searchable metadata […] to enable users to find, retrieve, and analyze data of interest.” At the 2017 TECI Workshop, a mini-project team (Susmita Das, Abhimat Gautam, Marie Lau, and Matt Taylor) drafted a report to make recommendations for data management broadly, including the TIO-user relationship, model pipelines, data processing and pipeline software development, level of public data access, and data storage.

In 2019, the TMT Data Archive Design Drivers team will identify important design drivers of data archives and further develop recommendations as they relate to the data archive specifically, with the ultimate goals of [1] giving astronomers more access to TMT data thereby increasing scientific output and [2] providing the TIO with metadata that can be used to drive future telescope development. The project team will seek input from both the user community and TIO to outline these drivers, including desired types of data. The team will also provide suggestions on how to interact with the data through a data archive web interface. A goal is to shift the focus of data archive development from “developing an archive” to support the same user-oriented research goals as the instruments.

The final product of this mini-project will be a document—”TMT Data Archive Design Drivers”—detailing the requested features for a TMT data archive, ranking how essential the features are based on community feedback, and containing an evaluation of their implementation feasibility. A secondary goal is to produce a TMT data archive web interface mockup based on the best aspects of current astronomical data archive web interfaces, with improvements and additions reflecting the design drivers document.

Testing the TMT Detailed Science Case Online Tool

Project Team: Aditi Agarwal (Indian Institute of Astrophysics)

   Wanqiu He (Tohoku University)

   Matt Taylor (Gemini Observatory)

Project Consultant: Warren Skidmore (TMT International Observatory)

The next Detailed Science Case (DSC) document for the TMT will be compiled in the coming 1-2 years, and an online tool will help streamline the process.  This mini-project team will help test current and future versions of the DSC Online Tool (DSCOT) to help make improvements and find bugs, with the goal of having a finished DSCOT by the end of 2019.  The mini-project team will test the tool by entering mock science cases that utilize the full range of TMT instrument setups, and will iterate with the TMT Project Office team supporting the tool.  The mock science cases may also be made available as templates to help introduce new users to the DSCOT.

IRIS Point Spread Function Reconstruction

Project Team: Matt Hankins (Caltech)

   Jessie Hirtenstein (University of California, Davis)

   Matt Hosek (University of California, Los Angeles)

   Annu Jacob (Indian Institute of Astrophysics)

   Anowar Shajib (University of California, Los Angeles)

   Xin Wang (University of California, Los Angeles)

Project Consultant: Jessica Lu (University of California, Berkeley – TMT IRIS Team)

Numerous science cases requiring high spatial resolution depend on accurate point spread function reconstruction (PSF-R) to calibrate images and integral-field spectrograph data.  This mini-project team assessed science requirements and what PSF-R data products would be necessary for four cases: (1) determining the stellar populations of star clusters in the Galactic nucleus, (2) assessing the Hubble constant using multiply lensed quasars, (3) tracking disk formation in high-redshift galaxies by resolving individual star-forming regions, and (4) measuring stellar velocity dispersions of low-mass galaxies at redshift ~2. 

Future work building from this mini-project includes using these science cases to update the PSF-R technical requirements document, including PSF parameters and recoverability that correspond to the science requirements for each case.  

Pinhole Mask Test Unit for NFIRAOS Calibrations

Project Team: Xun Chen (Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics and Technology)

   Tarun Kumar (University of Victoria)

   Zeren Lin (Caltech)

Project Consultants: Jessica Lu (University of California, Berkeley – TMT IRIS Team)

 Renate Kupke (University of California, Santa Cruz – TMT WFOS Team)

A pinhole test unit is an innovative way to potentially achieve sub-milli-arcsecond precision in imaging, in terms of residual distortion after calibration, versus ~1 milli-arcsecond from on-sky calibration.  Developing this calibration method for imagers using adaptive optics on TMT (NFIRAOS) requires precise manufacturing of a pinhole mask with ~20 mm size and ~200 nm systematic precision, a challenge for state-of-art photo-lithography technology.  Even though the necessary manufacturing precision and stability has been demonstrated in lab experiments, it hasn’t been tested in a real telescope environment, which is far less clean and stable.

This mini-project will deliver CAD models and documents summarizing the conceptual design of a test unit to be manufactured and deployed at Keck Observatory for use with the Keck adaptive optics system and NIRC2 camera.   A visit to optics laboratories at the University of California, Berkeley will enable the project team to iterate on their conceptual design with other teams using the NIRC2 optical system, and ensure that the final installation is compatible with all expected uses of NIRC2.  This mini-project could then continue with fabricating the pinhole mask unit and installing it at Keck, if time and resources allow.

Developing a Web-Based Tool for IRIS Astrometry Calculations


Project Team: Sireesha Chamarthi (Indian Institute of Astrophysics)

   Trupti Ranka (Giant Magellan Telescope)

   Arun Surya (University of California, San Diego)

Project Consultant: Jessica Lu (University of California, Berkeley – TMT IRIS Science Team)

Project summary webpage


Finite Element Analysis of WFOS Optics

Project Team: Sireesha Chamarthi (Indian Institute of Astrophysics)

   Nikita Klimovich (Caltech)

   Trupti Ranka (Giant Magellan Telescope)

Project Consultants: Renate Kupke (University of California, Santa Cruz – TMT WFOS Team)

 Nick MacDonald (University of California, Santa Cruz – TMT WFOS Team)

A critical aspect of instrument design is the iteration between the optical design and the opto-mechanical support system that holds the optics in place. In the early stage of an instrument design, the iteration is between the optical model and the finite element analysis (FEA) which can predict the deformation of the optics under gravity loading.  For the TMT Wide-Field Optical Spectrometer (WFOS), the primary software package for optical modeling is Zemax, whereas the opto-mechanical modeling system is Solidworks and ANSYS.  At the 2018 TECI Workshop, this project team developed a custom software tool to translate the FEA output file from Solidworks/ANSYS into an appropriate format for the Zemax modeling.