The quantity and length of optical fibers required for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy eXperiment (http://hetdex.org/) create unique fiber handling challenges. For HETDEX, at least 33,600 fibers will transmit light from the focal surface of the telescope to an array of spectrographs making up the Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (VIRUS). Up to 96 Integral Field Unit (IFU) bundles, each containing 448 fibers, hang suspended from the telescope’s moving tracker located more than 15 meters above the VIRUS instruments. A specialized mechanical system is being developed to support fiber optic assemblies onboard the telescope. The discrete behavior of 448 fibers within a conduit is also of primary concern. A life cycle test must be conducted to study fiber behavior and measure Focal Ratio Degradation (FRD) as a function of time.
The paper, “Design of the Fiber Optic Support System and Fiber Bundle Accelerated Life Test for VIRUS,” coauthored by Ian Soukup, Joseph Beno, Richard Hayes, James Heisler, Jason Mock, and Nicholas Mollison (UTCEM), John Good, Gary Hill, and Brian Vattiat (UT McDonald Observatory), Jeremy Murphy (UT Astronomy), Seth Anderson (contractor), Svend Bauer, Andreas Kelz, and Martin Roth