ERIS is an instrument that will both extend and enhance the fundamental diffraction limited imaging and spectroscopy capability for the VLT. It will replace two instruments that are now being maintained beyond their operational lifetimes, combine their functionality on a single focus, provide a new wavefront sensing module that makes use of the facility Adaptive Optics System, and considerably improve their performance. The instrument will be competitive with respect to JWST in several regimes, and has outstanding potential for studies of the Galactic Center, exoplanets, and high redshift galaxies. ERIS had its final design review in 2017, and is expected to be on sky in 2020. This contribution describes the instrument concept, outlines its expected performance, and highlights where it will most excel.
We present the design and measured performance of the Aperture Wheel and the Pupil and Filter Wheel mechanisms for the NIX camera of the VLT/ERIS instrument. Both mechanisms were developed for high opto-mechanical precision and stability while operating at 70 K. We summarise the design constraints and considerations. Further, we have developed a dedicated cryo-test facility to allow measuring the position repeatability under nominal operational conditions. We demonstrate that the wheel mechanisms perform as designed and provide the measurement methodology and results of the opto-mechanical tolerances.
This paper investigates the potential role of small satellites, specifically those often referred to as CubeSats, in the future of infrared astronomy. Whilst CubeSats are seen as excellent (and inexpensive) ways to demonstrate and improve the readiness of critical (space) technologies of the future they also potentially have a role in solving key astrophysical problems. The pros and cons of such small platforms are considered and evaluated with emphasis on the technological limitations and how these might be improved. Three case studies are presented for applications in the IR region. One of the main challenges of operating in the IR is that the detector invariably needs to be cooled. This is a significant undertaking requiring additional platform volume and power and is one of the major areas of discussion in this paper. Whilst the small aperture on a CubeSat inevitably has limitations both in terms of sensitivity and angular resolution when compared to large ground-based and space-borne telescopes, the prospect of having distributed arrays of tens (perhaps hundreds) of IR-optimised CubeSats in the future offers enormous potential. Finally, we summarise the key technology developments needed to realise the case study missions in the form of a roadmap.
ERIS will be the next-generation AO facility on the VLT, combining the heritage of NACO imaging, with the spectroscopic capabilities of an upgraded SINFONI. Here we report on the all-new NIX imager that will deliver diffraction-limited imaging from the J to M band. The instrument will be equipped with both Apodizing Phase Plates and Sparse Aperture Masks to provide high-angular resolution imagery, especially suited for exoplanet imaging and characterization. This paper provides detail on the instrument’s design and how it is suited to address a broad range of science cases, from detailed studies of the galactic centre at the highest resolutions, to studying detailed resolved stellar populations.
The tropospheric distribution of greenhouse gases (GHGs) depends on surface flux variations, atmospheric chemistry and transport processes over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Accurate and precise atmospheric concentration observations of GHGs can be used to infer surface flux estimates, though their interpretation relies on unbiased atmospheric transport models. GHOST is a novel, compact shortwave infrared spectrometer which will observe tropospheric columns of CO<sub>2</sub>, CO, CH<sub>4</sub> and H<sub>2</sub>O (along with the HDO/H<sub>2</sub>O ratio) during deployment on board the NASA Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle. The primary science objectives of GHOST are to: 1) test atmospheric transport models; 2) evaluate satellite observations of GHG column observations over oceans; and 3) complement in-situ tropopause transition layer observations from other Global Hawk instruments. GHOST comprises a target acquisition module (TAM), a fibre slicer and feed system, and a multiple order spectrograph. The TAM is programmed to direct solar radiation reflected by the ocean surface into a fibre optic bundle. Incoming light is then split into four spectral bands, selected to optimise remote observations of GHGs. The design uses a single grating and detector for all four spectral bands. We summarise the GHOST concept and its objectives, and describe the instrument design and proposed deployment aboard the Global Hawk platform.
The Universe is comprised of hundreds of billions of galaxies, each populated by hundreds of billions of stars. Astrophysics aims to understand the complexity of this almost incommensurable number of stars, stellar clusters and galaxies, including their spatial distribution, formation, and current interactions with the interstellar and intergalactic media. A considerable fraction of astrophysical discoveries require large statistical samples, which can only be addressed with multi-object spectrographs (MOS). Here we introduce the MOSAIC study of an optical/near-infrared MOS for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which has capabilities specified by science cases ranging from stellar physics and exoplanet studies to galaxy evolution and cosmology. Recent studies of critical technical issues such as sky-background subtraction and multi-object adaptive optics (MOAO) have demonstrated that such a MOS is feasible with current technology and techniques. In the 2020s the E-ELT will become the world’s largest optical/IR telescope, and we argue that it has to be equipped as soon as possible with a MOS. MOSAIC will provide a vast discovery space, enabled by a multiplex of ∼ 200 and spectral resolving powers of R = 5 000 and 20 000. MOSAIC will also offer the unique capability of 10-to-20 ‘high-definition’ (MOAO) integral-field units, optimised to investigate the physics of the sources of reionisation, providing the most efficient follow-up of observations with the <i>James Webb Space Telescope</i> (JWST). The combination of these modes will enable the study of the mass-assembly history of galaxies over cosmic time, including high-redshift dwarf galaxies and studies of the distribution of the intergalactic medium. It will also provide spectroscopy of resolved stars in external galaxies at unprecedented distances, from the outskirts of the Local Group for main-sequence stars, to a significant volume of the local Universe, including nearby galaxy clusters, for luminous red supergiants.