Maaike van Kooten

Roles and responsibilities

As an adaptive optics (AO) developer in the AO team, I assist with the modelling, designing, building, testing, and commissioning of new AO instruments for Canadian astronomers.  I also lead R&D efforts to improve AO systems and develop cutting-edge technologies for AO.

Current research and/or projects

I provide AO support of real-time-computing for the Gemini Planet Imager upgrade (GPI 2.0) and GPI’s Calibration unit upgrade (CAL 2.0).

Pyramid wavefront sensing: I am designing and testing a pyramid wavefront sensor system at NRC-HAA with the goal of moving the wavefront sensor to REVOLT for on-sky testing.

R&D projects:

My R&D interests lie in advance control algorithms for AO and better understanding atmospheric turbulence on short timescales.

Predictive control: I have shown a factor of 2 improvement in on-sky contrast for direct imaging of exoplanets using a new predictive control algorithm at W.M. Keck Observatory. With further simulations and on-sky tests, I hope to push that improvement. I am also interested in implementing predictive control for other systems including REVOLT and SPIDERS.

Atmospheric profiling: I am leading an instrument on the Nickel Telescope on Mt Hamilton to measure atmospheric turbulence. The instrument was commissioned in summer 2022 with an observing campaign starting in late-Fall 2022. Various data analysis will be applied to the acquired dataset and algorithms for atmospheric profiling will be compared to each other. The best algorithm will be also tested on REVOLT and be a tool for future instruments.


PhD in Astrophysics Leiden University (2020)

MASc in Mechanical Engineering University of Victoria (2016)

BSc in Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria (2014)

Key publications

1. van Kooten, M and Izett, J. G., “Climate Change and Astronomy: A Look at Long-term Trends on Maunakea”, PASP, vol. 134, no. 10 39, 2022. doi:10.1088/1538-3873/ac81ec.

2. Jensen-Clem, R., “An updated preliminary optical design and performance analysis of the Planetary Systems Imager adaptive optics system”, in Adaptive Optics Systems VIII, 2022, vol. 12185. doi:10.1117/12.2630526.

3. Ragland, S., “Residual wavefront control of segmented mirror telescopes”, in Adaptive Optics Systems VIII, 2022, vol. 12185. doi:10.1117/12.2630269.

4. van Kooten, M., Ragland, S., Jensen-Clem, R., Xin, Y., Delorme, J.-R., and Kent Wallace, J., “On-sky Reconstruction of Keck Primary Mirror Piston Offsets Using a Zernike Wavefront Sensor”, ApJ, vol. 932, no. 2, 2022. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac6ba2.

5. van Kooten, M., “Predictive wavefront control on Keck II adaptive optics bench: on-sky coronagraphic results”, JATIS, vol. 8, 2022. doi:10.1117/1.JATIS.8.2.029006.

6. Jensen-Clem, R., “The Santa Cruz Extreme AO Lab (SEAL): design and first light”, in Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets X, 2021, vol. 11823. doi:10.1117/12.2594676.

7. van Kooten, M., Doelman, N., and Kenworthy, M., “Robustness of prediction for extreme adaptive optics systems under various observing conditions. An analysis using VLT/SPHERE adaptive optics data”, A&A, vol. 636, 2020. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201937076.

8. van Kooten, M., Doelman, N., and Kenworthy, M., “Impact of time-variant turbulence behavior on prediction for adaptive optics systems”, JOSAA, vol. 36, no. 5, p. 731, 2019. doi:10.1364/JOSAA.36.000731.

9. van Kooten, M., Veran, J. P., and Bradley, C., “Alternative pyramid wavefront sensors”, JATIS, vol. 3, 2017. doi:10.1117/1.JATIS.3.2.029001.



Maaike van Kooten

Assistant Research Officer
Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics
5071 West Saanich Road
Victoria, British Columbia V9E 2E7
Preferred language: English
Telephone: 250-363-8262


Sciences, Physical sciences, Physics, Atomics, molecular and optical physics, Technology, Simulation & Numerical Modelling