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Our program aims at providing answers to key astronomical questions, optimize the use of the current AO-assisted instrumentation, and prepare the future generation of instruments.

The project will gather worldwide experts in astronomy and Adaptive Optics, in order to greatly improve the scientific returns of current AO systems, and open brand new areas in the way to design, operate and optimize AO for the next generation of AO-assisted instrumentation.

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Over the 20 past-years, Adaptive Optics [AO] for astronomy went from a demonstration phase, to a well-proven and operational technique. Since the first astronomical AO systems were opened to the community in the early 1990s, numerous technical achievements have been accomplished, a multitude of novel techniques have been established, and it is now inconceivable to consider building a large telescope without AO. AO observations have brought some of the major discoveries in astronomy with, among others, detailed study of the massive black hole at the center of our Galaxy (e.g. Ghez et al. 2008, Genzel et al. 2010), detailed images of the surface of solar systems planets (e.g. Hartung et al. 2004, De Pater et al. 2010), or precise morphology and dynamics of very distant galaxies (e.g. Huertas-Company et al. 2008, Cresci et al. 2009, Law et al. 2009, Wright et al. 2009). AO have revolutionized the ground-based telescopes by providing the highest achievable image quality of the world.

We are today at the beginning of a new step forward, with the birth of a revolutionary generation of AO systems called Wide Field AO [WFAO]. By using multiple Laser Guide Stars [LGS], WFAO significantly increases the field of the AO corrected images, and the fraction of the sky that can benefit from such correction. Therefore, where the first AO systems were well suited for observations of bright and relatively small objects, the new generation of WFAO is opening the path for a multitude of new science cases.

Within a decade, the world will see a new generation of telescopes with diameter up to 39m, called the Extremely Large Telescopes [ELTs]. These giants will address fundamental astrophysical science cases as for instance the direct imaging and characterization of exo-worlds or the study of bulk and evolution of the first galaxies. The scientific potential of these giants relies on challenging new AO concepts, integrated inside the telescope itself, and providing high-resolution images to all the instrumentation downstream.

With the deployment of the WFAO systems on current telescope generation, and with the venue of the ELTs, Adaptive Optics is becoming a new must for astronomical observations. Our program aims at being an active part in preparing this transition. For this, we have defined 3 main axes around which the project will be developed :

• Astronomical exploitations of new WFAO systems. This part of the project will be dedicated to execute AO-assisted observations for a set of three science cases, identified as key in modern astronomy and for the future ELTs. Beyond the unprecedented astronomical results envisioned for these observations, we will use the data to do a fair assessment of current and near-future WFAO systems performance.

• Development of new data reduction and analysis tools. WFAO observations will be used to test, develop and validate new data reduction and analysis tools, adapted and dedicated to the optimization of the science return. These tools will be made available to the community.

• Study and validation of new AO concepts. New and innovative technological development for the optimization of the future AO-instruments will be developed in this part of the project. Our effort will be focused towards a significant improvement of the number of targets that would benefit from AO corrections.

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