I left Boeing in 1998 to live in Hawaii and shortly afterward was employed as a “research engineer” for the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea. I spent most of my time in the base facility in Hilo where I worked on three instruments being prepared for the telescope’s opening for its first science runs.

The Subaru telescope is a Cassegrain telescope and has three places to put an instrument. tele_illust[1] The place where the secondary mirror is housed is called the primary focus, the Nasmyth focus at the point of rotation of the telescope and the Cassegrain focus at the bottom of the telescope below the main mirror. I worked on instruments for two of them.

I spent most of my time on the IRCS instrument which IRCS[1]still in service today and remains the go-to instrument for infrared spectroscopy.

You can make out three housings of the three filter wheels in the center and the camera itself to the left of the instrument. The slits were on wheels on the other side of this optics table.  This instrument was huge and was placed at the Cassegrain focus.

CISCO1

The instrument I worked on at the Nasmyth focus was CISCO.  This is a spectroscope that detects near-infrared wavelengths.  I had to go up to the summit to work on it and the biggest issue for me was remembering what to do with it in the haze of being at high altitude.  Everything written was in Japanese and I had to create these drawings on photographs to take with me. They show just how complex it was and trying to remember what went where was half the job.CISCO2

I also worked with the Adaptive Optics team but didn’t stay long enough to see it fully operational in 2001.

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