Status and new operation modes of the versatile VLT/NaCo

Girard, Julien H. V.; Kasper, Markus; Quanz, Sascha P.; Kenworthy, Matthew A.; Rengaswamy, Sridharan; Schödel, Rainer; Gallenne, Alexandre; Gillessen, Stefan; Huerta, Nicolas; Kervella, Pierre; Kornweibel, Nick; Lenzen, Rainer; Mérand, Antoine; Montagnier, Guillaume; O'Neal, Jared; Zins, Gérard
Adaptive Optics Systems II. Edited by Ellerbroek, Brent L.; Hart, Michael; Hubin, Norbert; Wizinowich, Peter L. Proceedings of the SPIE, Volume 7736, pp. 77362N-77362N-10 (2010). (SPIE Homepage)


This paper aims at giving an update on the most versatile Adaptive Optics fed instrument to date, the well known and successful NACO*. Although NACO is only scheduled for about two more years at the Very Large Telescope (VLT), it keeps on evolving with additional operation modes bringing original astronomical results. The high contrast imaging community uses it creatively as a test-bench for SPHERE and other second generation planet imagers. A new visible wavefront sensor (WFS) optimized for Laser Guide Star (LGS) operations has been installed and tested, the cube mode is more and more required for frame selection on bright sources, a seeing enhancer mode (no tip/tilt correction) is now offered to provide full sky coverage and welcome all kind of extragalactic applications, etc. The Instrument Operations Team (IOT) and Paranal engineers are currently working hard at maintaining the instrument overall performances but also at improving them and offering new capabilities, providing the community with a well tuned and original instrument for the remaining time it is being used. The present contribution delivers a non-exhaustive overview of the new modes and experiments that have been carried out in the past months.