The High Contrast Imaging Balloon System

HiCIBaS is a balloon borne telescope whose main goal is to demonstrate the usability of
high contrast imaging equipment on board a stratospheric balloon flight.

Conclusive prelimenary results for mechanical
design of HiCIBaS-II

Several modifications will be made to the mechanical design for HiCIBaS-II. For example, the second floor which was used for optics is going to be removed from the gondola. The optics are now going to be mounted directly on the telescope mount, causing new loads on the structure. Finite Element Analysis predict the performance of mechanical assemblies under loads and are used to identify the most critical areas on the mount, so we can minimze the risk of failure. The scope of these simulations is to verify the integrity of the mechanical components when solicited by in-flight loading, as well as loading experienced during landing. The whole assembly is set to withstand up to 15 g of vertical acceleration and 6.8 g of lateral acceleration. For the latest news about HiCIBaS-II, visit our Facebook page HiCIBaS Balloon-borne mission.

June 2020

CSA to fund HiCIBaS-II...
Here we go again !

We are delighted to announce that the Canadian Space Agency will fund phase 2 of HiCIBaS through the FAST program. This new phase will take another look at our previous scientific objectives. We look forward to working with the partners and team and share the science behind HiCIBaS with you again.

Septembre 2018

HiCIBaS's flight brings a close to
Strato-Science 2018

Many things happened in the last month for HiCIBaS’ team, culminating on Saturday, August 25th at 11 pm, with the launch of the last flight of the Strato-Science 2018 campaign. The FAST-CARMEN scientific gondola hosted HiCIBaS’ payload, along with other Canadian experiments and CSA systems including ALI V2, CATS, HABOO and PRISM. The 12-hour flight allowed us to achieve many objectives of the mission. Post-flight analysis will be performed in the next months. For the latest information about HiCIBaS, visit our Facebook page HiCIBaS Balloon-borne mission.

August 2018

Towards HiCIBaS' launch
later this month

After a two-day truck ride between Québec QC and Timmins ON, the payload arrived to the launch site at the Timmins Victor M. Power Airport. The team members and collaborators will also gather at Timmins where the STRATOS Canadian stratopheric ballon launch site is located.

July 2018

with the Coronagraph Wavefront Sensor

From the latest results in the lab, the Coronagraphic Modal Wavefront Sensor successfully operates in closed-loop with the first twelve Zernike terms. This great achievement was realized by Chris de Jonge, the PhD student from SRON who’s working in strong collaboration with Université Laval’s HiCIBaS team during the final integration phase of the project.

June 2018

Poster presentations

This weeks, Master's student Guillaume Allain and Olivier Côté presented posters at SPIE Astronomical Instrumentation + Telescopes in Austin, USA. Their posters focused on the Low-order wavefront sensors first on-sky results and the system engineering behind the HiCIBaS mission respectively. It was also a great opportunity for Allain and Côté to attend scientific talks in the field of adaptive optics and airborne instrumentation for astronomy.

May 2018

Visit of our collaborators
from the Netherlands

Researcher Marcel Dijkstra and PhD student Chris De Jonge from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research visited us this month. SRON's contribution to HiCIBaS is to develop the software for the High-Constrast Imaging Instrument on board. Chris performed several tests and images acquisitions with the integrated optical bench to verify the readiness of the control software for the modal wavefront correction. He worked in collaboration with Marcel who was completing the integration between the hardware and software for the different instruments involved to achieve high contrast imaging. Overall, the tests with the integration system gave us a better understanding of which are the main parameters that needs to be optimized in order to achieve a better contrast.

April 2018

Reception of the
Telescope Mount

The Mount is here! The telescope's Alt-Az mount is now assembled and ready for the upcoming integration test at the end of May. We would like to thank OMP Inc. for their help in the design and final assembly of the mount. The optics box and accompanying optical mounts have also been delivered. Guillaume and Mireille are assembling the last pieces of the payload.

March 2018

Environmental Testing
of Telescope

Over the past week we were able to use one of Université Laval civil engineering environmental chamber in order to test the thermal focal drift that the telescope may experience during the flight. Having tested the telescope in controlled cold conditions, we are now able to compare our Zemax model of the telescope to real world data and confirm the optical design that was presented during the FDR. Moreover, having data on the time it takes to settle the telescope temperature will allow us to get a clearer idea to what we should expect during the flight

February 2018

Join us at SPIE AT+I
in Austin

Master's students Guillaume Allain and Olivier Côté will be presenting posters in June 2018 at the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation in Austin, Texas! Meet Olivier to learn more about the HiCIBaS project (Paper 10702-153) and Guillaume to discover innovative Low order waveFront sensor (Paper 10703-196). More information is available in the Publications section.

January 2018

Final design

On the last week of january we held the final design review for most of the HiCiBaS subsystems at Université Laval. It was also the occasion for the core Université Laval team to meet with Leiden University partners (Frans Snik and David doelman from Leiden University and Chris de Jonge from SRON)and plan the following months with them. Also at the review was Fabien Dupont from Abb inc. and Christian Marois from NRC Herzberg and other partners from Leiden and CSA connected remotely. The review was the occasion to discuss solutions for thermal effects and hardware problems that may arise in the final testings of the system in the following months.

December 2017

Pointing system first
on-sky images

The core of our solution for guiding the telescope to the right star in the sky is a custom build solution for a “lost in space” star tracker. We are able to use the arrangement of the stars in the image and, with a pattern recognition routine, find the appropriate coordinates in a star catalogue that would explain such a pattern. After months of testing with computer simulations, we had the occasion to take a high quality picture using similar hardware that will be used on the final HiCIBaS system and successfully solve the “lost-in-space” quite effectively. The next steps are refining the algorithm and testing it with a closed loop with motors directly on sky.

November 2017

Qualification run
at OMM

In early November, members of the team were at the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic for the first on-sky testing of the low-order wavefront sensor (LOWFS) concept that will be used on the HiCIBaS system. The LOWFS was mounted on a new version of an adaptive optics test-bench developed here at Université Laval (see our proceeding about the last version). This instrument can take up to two difference wavefront sensors (a Shack-Hartmann sensor and a modified pyramid wavefront sensor (P-WFS) in our case) in order to compare the two. The PWFS was gladly provided by l'INO (here is a proceeding about the WFS) and was fitted with an axicon to emulate the system that will be used on board.