Jaqueline Mena is a first-generation college student who was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. During high school she became a part of the Upward Bound program at ASU where she was encouraged to apply to colleges that suited her major. Jaqueline is now finishing her second semester at the University of Hawaii at Hilo as a a declared astronomy major. After completing her undergraduate studies, she plans to further her education in graduate school.

Home Island: Big Island

Institution when accepted:University of Hawaii at Hilo

Akamai Project: W.M. Keck Observatory Laser Dye Performance

Project Site: W.M. Keck Observatory

Mentor: Kenny Grace. Advisor: Jason Chin

Project Abstract:

The W.M. Keck Observatory presently has no method for determining when its laser dye should be changed in order to maintain excellent laser guide-star performance. The purpose of this project is to find consistent characteristics in old dyes’ spectra that will help determine when the dye should no longer be used. As the dye is actively used, its spectrum significantly changes in the ultraviolet and in the green wavelength ranges. These differences are seen when taking peak-to-valley ratios, when comparing slopes of specific regions, and when calculating the dye concentration of each sample. Data was collected from four diluted dye samples that have been used for different amounts of time: Two different old dye samples with unknown times of usage, a relatively new sample with only 200 hours of use, and a new dye sample with zero hours of use. The absolute differences are small, so new dye was used as a reference for relative difference measurements. The old dyes’ spectral slopes are at least 30% different from the new dye’s slope, compared to the 7% difference of the dye that has been used for only 200 hours. The goal is to create a specific procedure for analyzing laser dye samples and to identify the spectral features that change most with dye age and overexposure. The observatory will continue to sample dye at different hours of usage to determine how long the dye should be actively used.