Solar multiconjugate adaptive optics systems rely on several wavefront sensors, which measure the incoming turbulent phase along several field directions to produce a tomographic reconstruction of the turbulent phase. In this paper, we explore an alternative wavefront sensing approach that attempts to directly measure the turbulent phase present at a particular height in the atmosphere: a layer-oriented cross-correlating Shack–Hartmann wavefront sensor (SHWFS). In an experiment at the Dunn Solar Telescope, we built a prototype layer-oriented cross-correlating SHWFS system conjugated to two separate atmospheric heights. We present the data obtained in the observations and complement these with ray-tracing computations to achieve a better understanding of the instrument’s performance and limitations. The results obtained in this study strongly indicate that a layer-oriented cross-correlating SHWFS is not a practical design to measure the wavefront at a high layer in the atmosphere.
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