Pathfinder is now at the telescope! Refer to the Mountain News page for up-to-date info



LINC-NIRVANA is a complex instrument with multiple sub-systems. Commissioning such an instrument is itself complex and prone to delays as one sub-system struggles and the others wait. In order to reduce risk and accelerate the ultimate commissioning of LN, the team is conducting the Pathfinder experiment, an initiative to bring a substantial portion of LN to the telescope at an earlier date.


Pathfinder aims to implement one of the ground-layer wavefront sensors (WFS), along with other components and the electronic and software infrastructure, at the right, rear, bent focus of the LBT. The experiment was approved by the consortium and was strongly supported by an external Assembly, Integration, and Verification Review. A Memorandum of Understanding with the LBT Observatory is in place for the operation of Pathfinder until the remainder of LINC-NIRVANA arrives at the observatory.

Pathfinder has multiple goals, in addition to retiring risk and accelerating the ultimate commissioning of LINC-NIRVANA. These include:


   • verify telescope control system communication

   • communication with adaptive secondary mirror

   • upload of wavefront reconstructors

   • verify WFS calibration strategy

   • verify and refine field and guide star acquisition

   • demonstrate/optimize rotating interaction matrix strategy

   • test/fine-tune LN software compatibility with observatory

   • commission LN focal station and gain on-sky experience

The experiment will also place LINC-NIRVANA hardware, software, and personnel on the mountain as the LBT prepares the necessary telescope control infrastructure for interferometry. Pathfinder passed its Preliminary Acceptance Europe review in December 2012 and was shipped to the telescope in February 2013.

The LINC-NIRVANA team celebrates the complete assembly of Pathfinder in the MPIA integration hall, just prior to Preliminary Acceptance Europe in December 2012.

Computer rendering of the LINC-NIRVANA Pathfinder mounted at the right, rear, Gregorian bent focus of the LBT.

Site manager: Tom Herbst

Last updated:

20 June 2013