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April 17, 2020

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In the recent wake of COVID-19, the Makidon optics lab has been forced to readjust to a new way of operations, like everybody else. With the health and safety of our team members being our highest priority, we are fortunate to be able to maintain a certain level of operations.Of course with this new way of working there are certain aspects of our work that are limited. The remote teleworking has limited our access to vital hardware work and first-hand access to our facilities. However, with the communicational structure of the team as well as the IT-infrastructure built over the years, we have been able to maintain our usual work structure, albeit with adjusted work hours and time lines.

Brief, daily work updates in the form of written “standups” in a dedicated Slack channel allowing us to stay up track with what each of us is doing. Additionally, we continue to communicate through Slack on a regular basis which gives everybody the space to adjust to a new routine. In terms of testbed experiments, we are feeding off of the tremendous effort we put into enabling remote operations over the past couple of years. Both the HiCAT as well as the JOST testbed are fully operational remotely, and our chase for better dark zone contrast on segmented telescopes continues. Software development and experiment investigation go entirely through GitHub and a project management platform, which brought no changes for us once we started working from home. Initially, this infrastructure was developed with 24/7, autonomous operations in mind: if we could operate the testbeds remotely during the nights and on weekends, we could use our work days to work on hardware. It turns out that the same setup is extremely helpful when a Pandemic comes around.

Obviously, we cannot run a lab forever without performing some major hardware changes which would require us to be on-site. While nobody knows how the situation will evolve over the next couple of weeks, we are confident that we will come up with functional and creative solutions to continue our work.
In the meantime, we are staying home, washing our hands, and keeping our close ones safe, as we hope you all are.

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For more information about the Russell B. Makidon Optics Laboratory, please .