The Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager - known as GSAOI - is a $6.3 million, wide-field, infrared camera that was designed and manufactured by RSAA engineers and technicians for the Gemini South telescope in Chile.
GSAOI is designed to produce images comparable to those produced by the Hubble Space Telescope. It works in conjunction with the Gemini Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System (GeMS for short), which uses a technique called adaptive optics to remove the blurring and movement that Earth's atmosphere adds to stellar images.
A decade of hard work culminated at the Gemini South telescope in Chile on 16 December 2011, when the full GeMS/GSAOI system produced its first ultra-sharp wide field image. The capabilities of GSAOI will make it one of the "bread and butter" instruments on Gemini South.
The revolutionary AO system uses high-power lasers to project a set of five artificial 'guide stars' on the sky, which are measured to quantify and correct the twinkling effect of the atmosphere and to provide extreme clarity over the largest area of night sky ever captured in a single AO observation. The resulting, extremely crisp image is close to the theoretical limit of the resolution of the telescope, and is captured by the precision optics and detectors of GSAOI.
The instrument and its capabilities are described in more detail on the RSAA GSAOI website, and detailed information for observers can be found on the Gemini GSAOI instrument page.