28 June 2006 VISIR two years after its installation at the VLT
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Abstract
VISIR is the mid-infrared instrument installed in 2004 at the Cassegrain focus of MELIPAL, one of the four 8-meter telescopes of the European Very Large Telescope program. This cryogenic instrument, optimized for diffraction-limited performances in both mid-infrared atmospheric windows (N and Q bands), combines imaging capabilities and long-slit grating spectroscopy with spectral resolutions up to R=25000 at 10 μm and 12500 at 20 μm. The contract to design and build VISIR was signed in November 1996 between the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and a French-Dutch consortium of institutes led by Service d'Astrophysique of Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique (CEA). After extensive tests in the laboratory, VISIR was shipped to Paranal in March 2004. After successful commissioning between May and August 2004 and science verification between September 2004 and January 2005, routine science operations started in April 2005. The status of VISIR after 2 years of operation at the telescope is reviewed. This complex instrument, which features 14 cryogenic actuators to set the various observing possibilities, has been working without technical failure. The on-sky sensitivities are close to expectations. The median seeing conditions at Paranal (about 0.8-0.9 arcsec in the visible) are an issue to get routinely diffraction-limited images. Simple tip tilt adaptative corrections would be needed. For bright enough sources (a few Jansky), the so-called "burst mode", which allows to store up to 1500 individual frames (10-50 ms each) can be used to retrieve, off-line, diffraction-limited angular resolution (0.3 arcsec at 10 microns).
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Pierre-Olivier Lagage, Eric Pantin, Gilles Durand, Alain Smette, Coralie Doucet, Jean Belorgey, Jan-Willem Pel, "VISIR two years after its installation at the VLT", Proc. SPIE 6269, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy, 626913 (28 June 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.672265; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.672265
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