Adaptive Optics Facility Team Named Recipient of OSA’s 2018 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellen

18 September 2018

Adaptive Optics Facility Team Named Recipient of OSA’s 2018 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award

Pioneering engineering provides astronomers invaluable tool to explore the universe.


WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to announce that the Adaptive Optics Facility on the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory, is the winner of the 2018 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) team is recognized “for equipping one of the 8-m Unit Telescopes at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile with an Adaptive Optics Laser Guide Star Facility, providing exquisite images to the unique 3-D spectrograph MUSE and near-infrared imager HAWK-I”.

The 2018 award was presented last night during the Award Ceremony and Reception held during the OSA Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science APS/DLS conference in Washington DC, USA. ESO team members Robin Arsenault, Johann Kolb and Elise Vernet accepted the award on behalf of the entire 90-member team.

“The team’s work has opened a new chapter in astronomical research telescopes, which will have a significant impact on other observatories world-wide and science as a whole,” says Award Selection Committee Chair, Ann C. Von Lehmen, National Science Foundation, USA.

Large and extremely large astronomical ground-based telescopes built today rely on adaptive optics to achieve maximum resolution and sensitivity. Adaptive optics compensate for changes in the Earth’s atmosphere to produce sharper images.

After a successful first generation of adaptive optics systems in astronomy, the team proposed an ambitious technological development program with the goal of providing an even more advanced adaptive optics telescope for the astronomy community. The project will be critical to development of adaptive optics systems for ESO’s upcoming 39-m Extremely Large Telescope.

The ESO team established several successful engineering collaborations with partners and industries to bring key components of adaptive optics systems to the next technological level, including:

·         Robust and compact 20-watt sodium lasers

·         One-meter class deformable mirrors and polishing of large, thin mirrors;

·         Fast, noiseless detector systems for wave-front sensing

·         High-power real-time computers and compact and accurate projector telescopes for artificial star creation.

The project is a significant example of the importance of innovation in science and industry, which will be necessary to face the upcoming challenges of the Extremely Large Telescope.

The Engineering Excellence Award was established by OSA in 1989. In 2007, the award was named in remembrance of Paul F. Forman, who helped raise visibility for the field of optical engineering. The team award recognizes technical achievements such as product engineering, process, software and patent development, as well as contributions to society such as engineering education, publication and management, and public appreciation of optical engineering. For more information on the award or the nomination process, visit OSA Awards.

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit



Team Members



Robin Arsenault, AOF Project Manager

Pierre-Yves Madec, AOF System Engineer

Norbert Hubin, AOF Project definition and Steering Committee Chair

Harald Kuntschner, AOF Project Scientist

Jean-Francois Pirard, Telescope UT4 Upgrade for AOF and Commissioning manager

Lieselotte Jochum, Project Controller


System & Optics

Jerome Paufique, GRAAL module system Engineer

Elise Vernet, (ESO) DSM system Engineer

Paolo La Penna, GALACSI module sub-system manager

Stefan Stroebele, GALACSI module system Engineer

Wolfgang Hackenberg, 4LGSF sub-system manager

Domenico Bonaccini Calia, 4LGSF system Engineer

Enrico Fedrigo, Real Time Standard Platform sub-project manager

Johann Kolb, Lead Adaptive Optics system physicist

Sylvain Oberti, Adaptive Optics system physicist

Steffan Lewis, 4LGSF Lasers contract manager

Miska Le Louarn, Adaptive Optics simulations

Pierre Haguenauer, Adaptive Optics commissioning Engineer

Marc Sarazin, Astronomical Site Monitoring upgrade (for AOF) manager

Antonio Manescau-Hernandez, (ESO) MUSE System Engineer

Bernard Delabre, AOF Optical Design

Bernard Buzzoni, Optical Technician (Launch Tel. Testing)

Stéphane Guisard, Optical Engineer (DSM installation & alignment)

Ronald Holzloehner, 4LGSF laser physicist (return flux simulation & analysis)

Samuel Leveque, Optical Engineer (metrology and alignment methods)


Control, Electronics & Detector Systems

Mario Kiekebusch, Lead Software Engineer for GRAAL & GALACSI

Mauro Comin, Software Engineer for the 4LGSF

Javier Argomedo, Software Engineer for GRAAL

Robert Donaldson, Software Engineer for the Real-Time Adaptive Optics control

Christian Soenke, Electronic Engineer for the Real-Time Adaptive Optics control

Marcos Suarez Valles, Real Time Standard Platform sub-project manager

Philippe Duhoux, Adaptive Optics Software Engineer

Steward McClay, Software Engineer support for the 4LGSF

Dan Popovic, Software Engineer support for the 4LGSF

Ivan Munoz, Software Engineer, Interface with Telescope Control Software

Gianluca Chiozzi, Software Engineer for Astronomical Site Monitoring Upgrade

Heiko Sommer, Software Engineer for Astronomical Site Monitoring Upgrade

Dario Dorigo, Software Engineer for Astronomical Site Monitoring Upgrade

Thomas Bierwirth, Manager for Software development for the Astronomical Site Monitoring Upgrade

Ignacio Vera, Data Base Administrator

Giorgio Calderone, Software Engineer

Michel Duchateau, Lead Electronic Engineer for GALACSI

Andreas Jost, Lead Electronic Engineer for GRAAL

Ivan M. Guidolin, Lead Electronic Engineer for the 4LGSF

Lothar Kern, Electronic Engineer for the 4LGSF Safety Systems

Gert Fischer, Senior Electronic Technician

Andreas Haimerl, Electronic Technician

Pablo Gutierrez-Cheetham, Electronic Engineer for GALACSI

Lorenzo Pettazzi, Control Engineer

Babak Sedghi, Control Engineer

Fernando Gago, Control Engineer

Mark Downing, Lead Electronic Engineer for WFS Detector Development

Javier Reyes, Senior Detector Engineer

Mirko Todorovic, Electronic Engineer

Leander Mehrgan, Detector Engineer


Mechanics & AIV

Ralf Conzelmann, Lead Mechanical Engineer for GRAAL & GALACSI

Ronald Guzman, Mechanical Engineer for 4LGSF

Marco Quattri, Mechanical Engineering & Analysis for 4LGSF

Paul Jolley, Mechanical Engineer

Rob Ridings, Mechanical Engineer

Jose Antonio Abad, Mechanical Engineer

Christophe Frank, Mechanical Engineer

Jutta Quentin, Drafting  

Juan Carlos Palacio, Mechanical Engineer

Sebastien Tordo, Lead Integration Engineer

Jean-Louis Lizon, Senior Integration & Cryogenic Engineer

Christophe Dupuy, Senior Integration Engineer

Thomas Pfrommer, Integration Physicist for 4LGSF

Emmanuel Aller-Carpentier, Integration Engineer

Stefan Huber, Mechanical Technician

Jean-Paul Kirchbauer, Mechanical Technician


Commissioning, Science & Operation

Joël Daniel Roger Vernet, GALACSI-MUSE Instrument Scientist

Pascale Hibon, GRAAL/Hawk-I Instrument Scientist

Paola Amico, Laser Traffic Control System Engineer

Peter Hammersley, UT4 re-commissioning

Stéphane Brillant, On-Site Science Operation

Javier Valenzuela, On-Site Instrumentation Engineer

Diego Del Valle, On-Site Software Engineer

Jose-Luis Álvarez, On-Site Laser Operation Engineer

Juan Carlos Guerra, On-Site Adaptive Optics Engineer

Christian Ramirez, On-Site Mechanical Engineer

Juan Beltran, On-Site Instrumentation Specialist

Pedro Baksai, On-Site Software Engineer

Pierre Bourget, On-Site Optical Engineer

Pierre Sansgasset, On-Site Optical Engineer

Volker Heinz, On-Site UT4 Upgrade support

Eloy Fuenteseca, On-Site Cooling Facility upgrade

Fernando Selman, On-Site Instrumentation Scientist

George Hau, On-Site Science Operation

Dominika Wylezalek, MUSE Data Reduction