The ESO Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF) will transform UT4 of the VLT into a laser driven adaptive telescope in which the corrective optics, specifically the deformable secondary mirror, and the four Laser Guide Star units are integrated. Three instruments, with their own AO modules to provide field selection capabilities and wavefront sensing, will make use of this system to provide a variety of observing modes that span from large field IR imaging with GLAO, to integral field visible spectroscopy with both GLAO and LTAO, to SCAO high Strehl imaging and spectroscopy. Each of these observing modes carries its specific demands on observing conditions. Optimal use of telescope night-time, with such a high in demand and versatile instruments suite, is mandatory to maintain and even improve upon the scientific output of the facility. This implies that the standard VLT model for operations must be updated to cover these partly new demands. In particular, we discuss three key aspects: (1) the need for an upgrade of the site monitoring facilities to provide the operators with real-time information on the environmental conditions, including the ground layer strength, and their evolution throughout the night; (2) a set of tools and procedures to effectively use these data to optimize the short-term scheduling (i.e. with granularity of one night) of the telescope and (3) the upgrade of the current laser beam avoidance software to better cope with the AOF operational scheme, where the four laser units are continuously operated as long as the atmospheric conditions allow.
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H. Kuntschner ; P. Amico ; J. Kolb ; P. Y. Madec ; R. Arsenault, et al.
Operational concept of the VLT's adaptive optics facility and its instruments
", Proc. SPIE 8448, Observatory Operations: Strategies, Processes, and Systems IV, 844808 (September 25, 2012); doi:10.1117/12.925111; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.925111