EVALSO (Enabling Virtual Access to Latin-American Southern Observatories) is an international consortium of nine
astronomical organizations, and research network operators, part-funded under the European Commission FP7, to create
and exploit high-speed bandwidth connections to the observatories of Cerro Paranal and Cerro Armazones in Chile. The
communication infrastructure was delivered in November 2010 and this paper reports on the initial results of the project
and the demonstrations of its capabilities, including the possibilities that the new infrastructure opens up in the
geographically distributed operation of the observatories.
VISTA, the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, is a 4-m class 1.65-degree wide field near-IR survey
telescope with 0.34 arcsec pixels. VISTA was successfully commissioned and has been making surveys since 15 October
2009, and was formally accepted as a part of ESO's Cerro Paranal Observatory on 10 December 2009. We summarise
the design and build process, report on commissioning and the as-built status. The most novel aspects of the system
design have proved to all work well. We report the measured on-sky system performance that confirms that VISTA
works as expected.
VISTA was designed as a survey facility, and was optimized for use with the 64Mpix VISTA IR Camera in the sense
that the optical system of the instrument and telescope was designed as a single entity. The commissioning of the IR
camera therefore formed a major part of the system integration and commissioning of the whole VISTA system. We
describe some aspects of the commissioning process for VISTA, the interplay between the camera and telescope
systems, and summarize the results of the verification phase.
This paper elaborates on how ESO is looking forward to fully exploit all new opportunities that the high bandwidth
communication link delivered by the EVALSO project will make available to the ESO Paranal Observatory. EVALSO, a
project funded by the Framework Programme 7 of the European Union, stands for 'Enabling Virtual Access to Latin-american
Southern Observatories' (more at www.evalso.eu). Its goal is to enable fast access to two European optical
astronomical facilities in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, namely the world-class ESO Paranal Observatory and
the one run by the Ruhr Universität Bochum at the neighbouring Cerro Armazones. EVALSO plans to make available
the still missing physical infrastructure to efficiently connect these facilities to Europe via the international
infrastructures created in the last years with the European Commission support (ALICE, trans-Atlantic link, GEANT2)
ESO, as member of the EVALSO Consortium, is involved in the implementation of the link and has already started
together with the other members the analysis of the operational opportunities that this new capability will give the
European astronomical community, not only in terms of faster access to the collected data, but also opening the door to
new and more efficient ways of operating remote facilities.
Data from two IR survey cameras UKIRT's WFCAM and ESO's VISTA can arrive at rates approaching 1.4 TB/night
for of order 10 years. Handling the rate, and volume of survey data accumulated over time, are both challenges. The
UK's VISTA Data Flow System (for WFCAM & VISTA near-IR survey data) removes instrumental artefacts,
astrometrically and photometrically calibrates, extracts catalogues, puts the products in a curated archive, facilitates
production of user-specified data products, and is designed in the context of the Virtual Observatory. The VDFS design
concept is outlined, and experience in handling the first year of WFCAM data described. This work will minimize risk
in meeting the more taxing requirements of VISTA, which will be commissioned in 2007. Tools for preparing survey
observations with VISTA are outlined.
We describe the integration and test phase of the construction of the VISTA Infrared Camera, a 64 Megapixel, 1.65 degree field of view 0.9-2.4 micron camera which will soon be operating at the cassegrain focus of the 4m VISTA telescope. The camera incorporates sixteen IR detectors and six CCD detectors which are used to provide autoguiding and wavefront sensing information to the VISTA telescope control system.
VISTA is a 4-m wide field survey telescope with a near infra-red camera and a demanding f/1 primary design now well into its manufacturing phase. We contracted out major items, and generated a coordinated approach to the management of engineering budgets through systems engineering, risks through risk management, and safety through the generation of safety cases. Control of the interfaces and science requirements has been maintained and developed through the current phase. The project is developing the commissioning plan to deliver an effective and safe facility. The current status of VISTA is presented as we move towards the on site integration phase.
The VISTA IR Camera has now completed its detailed design phase and is on schedule for delivery to ESO’s Cerro Paranal Observatory in 2006. The camera consists of 16 Raytheon VIRGO 2048x2048 HgCdTe arrays in a sparse focal plane sampling a 1.65 degree field of view. A 1.4m diameter filter wheel provides slots for 7 distinct science filters, each comprising 16 individual filter panes. The camera also provides autoguiding and curvature sensing information for the VISTA telescope, and relies on tight tolerancing to meet the demanding requirements of the f/1 telescope design. The VISTA IR camera is unusual in that it contains no cold pupil-stop, but rather relies on a series of nested cold baffles to constrain the light reaching the focal plane to the science beam. In this paper we present a complete overview of the status of the final IR Camera design, its interaction with the VISTA telescope, and a summary of the predicted performance of the system.
The Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) project started in 2000 following a Joint Infrastructure Fund award to a consortium of 18 Universities within the UK. The UK ATC was contracted to manage the project of developing and building the VISTA facility. VISTA is planned to be a 4-m class telescope with the ability to mount both a visible and infra-red cameras, not concurrently. The design has an F/1 primary resulting in some demanding design issues. The project has now entered its detailed design and manufacturing phase. As we have contracted out major items a coordinated approach to the management of budgets, through systems engineering, risks, through risk management, and safety, through the generation of safety cases, had to be generated. These have been developed through the current phase, and control of the interfaces and science requirements has been maintained. The project is further developing the systems engineering and safety management to generate the commissioning plan and the overall safety case. The plan to deliver an effective and safe survey facility to ESO is being maintained.
Data from the two IR survey cameras WFCAM (at UKIRT in the northern hemisphere) and VISTA (at ESO in the southern hemisphere) can arrive at rates approaching 1.4 TB/night for of order 10 years. Handling the data rates on a nightly basis, and the volumes of survey data accumulated over time each present new challenges. The approach adopted by the UK's VISTA Data Flow System (for WFCAM & VISTA data) is outlined, emphasizing how the design will meet the end-to-end requirements of the system, from on-site monitoring of the quality of the data acquired, removal of instrumental artefacts, astrometric and photometric calibration, to accessibility of curated and user-specified data products in the context of the Virtual Observatory. Accompanying papers by Irwin et al and Hambly et al detail the design of the pipeline and science archive aspects of the project.
VISTA Data Flow System (VDFS) survey data products are expected to reach of order one petabyte in volume. Fast and flexible user access to these data is pivotal for efficient science exploitation. In this paper, we describe the provision for survey products archive access and curation which is the final link in the data flow system from telescope to user. Science archive development at the Wide Field Astronomy Unit of the Institute for Astronomy within the University of Edinburgh is taking a phased approach. The first phase VDFS science archive is being implemented for WFCAM, a wide-field infrared imager that has similar output to, but at a lower data rate than the VISTA camera. We describe the WFCAM Science Archive, emphasising the design approach that is intended to lead to a scalable archive system that can handle the huge volume of VISTA data.
The UKIRT Wide Field Camera (WFCAM) on Mauna Kea and the VISTA IR mosaic camera at ESO, Paranal, with respectively 4 Rockwell 2kx2k and 16 Raytheon 2kx2k IR arrays on 4m-class telescopes, represent an enormous leap in deep IR survey capability. With combined nightly data-rates of typically 1TB, automated pipeline processing and data management requirements are paramount. Pipeline processing of IR data is far more technically challenging than for optical data. IR detectors are inherently more unstable, while the sky emission is over 100 times brighter than most objects of interest, and varies in a complex spatial and temporal manner. In this presentation we describe the pipeline architecture being developed to deal with the IR imaging data from WFCAM and VISTA, and discuss the primary issues involved in an end-to-end system capable of: robustly removing instrument and night sky signatures; monitoring data quality and system integrity; providing astrometric and photometric calibration; and generating photon noise-limited images and astronomical catalogues. Accompanying papers by Emerson etal and Hambly etal provide an overview of the project and a detailed description of the science archive aspects.
We give an overview of the current status of the VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) project to build a 4-m wide field survey telescope to be operated by ESO (the European Southern Observatory) at the Cerro Paranal Observatory in Chile. First light in 2006 will be with the Infrared (J, H, Ks) Camera with a 1.65 degrees diameter field of view able to accommodate sixteen 2k × 2k IR detectors with 0.34''pixel size. Some motivations driving the choice of site, current design, and operational mode are discussed. We outline some innovative features of the system, which were necessary to deal with, or arose from, the very large field of view, including a cold baffle (rather than cold stop) in the IR camera, lack of traditional telescope focus, f/1 primary mirror, thermal control of the IR camera etc. These are cross-referenced to more detailed analyses by members of the VISTA Project Office team presented at this meeting. Estimated IR performance for VISTA is given. The scientific gains from adding the 2.1 degrees field of view Visible Camera when funds become available are stressed. The problems of processing 0.4TB of survey data acquired each night are discussed.
The Visual and Infra-red Survey Telescope for Astronomy, or VISTA, is a UK funded four meter class wide-field infra-red and optical survey telescope to be situated in Chile. The telescope, which is regarded as a two-channel camera, was funded on the basis of having a one-degree, infra-red field at the Cassegrain focus and a two degree, optical field at prime focus. The re-use, development or sharing of existing telescope system designs will play a major role in the project and thus pose particular design challenges and trades. This paper briefly outlines the science specification and the functional requirements of the telescope/camera together with the initial technical concepts and options. The unique or interesting features of this type of system are also discussed. The newly appointed project office, its project organization and plan are briefly described. An integrated systems engineering approach to the project, which is being developed, is also outlined.