The near-infrared GRAVITY instrument has become a fully operational spectro-imager, while expanding its capability to support astrometry of the key Galactic Centre science. The mid-infrared MATISSE instrument has just arrived on Paranal and is starting its commissioning phase. NAOMI, the new adaptive optics for the Auxiliary Telescopes, is about to leave Europe for an installation in the fall of 2018. Meanwhile, the interferometer infrastructure has continuously improved in performance, in term of transmission and vibrations, when used with both the Unit Telescopes and Auxiliary Telescopes. These are the highlights of the last two years of the VLTI 2nd generation upgrade started in 2015.
In the last years the ELT Program has entered construction phase. For the large 39 meter segmented primary mirror unit with thousands of components this means that the start of the series production is getting closer, where the final hardware will be built. The M1 Unit has been broken down in products and a procurement strategy has been developed. Most of the major design decisions have been frozen and component specifications have been settled. Most of the suppliers have already been selected and contracts have been kicked off. This paper describes the ELT M1 Unit product breakdown and the procurement baseline for each product and its status. The production contracts would not have been possible without intense prototyping and verification strategies independent of the component contracts. Therefore, the paper also takes a look back at the prototypes and de-risking strategies, which had been put in place to prepare for construction phase. Ramping up the construction contracts involves finishing design details for some products while setting up production lines for others. This requires controlling interfaces and cross-contract dependencies, a challenge described in this paper. For continuous de-risking similar verification strategies than during the design phase are planned in parallel with the production until telescope assembly, integration and verification. These measures will increase confidence in the design choices, allow early discovery of remaining design flaws and provide training means for assembly and integration long time before all components of the ELT M1 are complete and being installed on Cerro Armazones in Chile. The paper will also give an outlook on these running and planned activities.
The primary mirror of the E-ELT is composed of 798 hexagonal segments of about 1.45 meters across. Each segment can be moved in piston and tip-tilt using three position actuators. Inductive edge sensors are used to provide feedback for global reconstruction of the mirror shape. The E-ELT M1 Local Control System will provide a deterministic infrastructure for collecting edge sensor and actuators readings and distribute the new position actuators references while at the same time providing failure detection, isolation and notification, synchronization, monitoring and configuration management. The present paper describes the prototyping activities carried out to verify the feasibility of the E-ELT M1 local control system communication architecture design and assess its performance and potential limitations.
ESO is undertaking a large upgrade of the infrastructure on Cerro Paranal in order to integrate the 2nd generation of interferometric instruments Gravity and MATISSE, and increase its performance. This upgrade started mid 2014 with the construction of a service station for the Auxiliary Telescopes and will end with the implementation of the adaptive optics system for the Auxiliary telescope (NAOMI) in 2018. This upgrade has an impact on the infrastructure of the VLTI, as well as its sub-systems and scientific instruments.
During the last 2 years ESO has operated the “M1 Test Facility”, a test stand consisting of a representative section of the E-ELT primary mirror equipped with 4 complete prototype segment subunits including sensors, actuators and control system. The purpose of the test facility is twofold: it serves to study and get familiar with component and system aspects like calibration, alignment and handling procedures and suitable control strategies on real hardware long before the primary mirror (hereafter M1) components are commissioned. Secondly, and of major benefit to the project, it offered the possibility to evaluate component and subsystem performance and interface issues in a system context in such detail, that issues could be identified early enough to feed back into the subsystem and component specifications. This considerably reduces risk and cost of the production units and allows refocusing the project team on important issues for the follow-up of the production contracts. Experiences are presented in which areas the results of the M1 Test Facility particularly helped to improve subsystem specifications and areas, where additional tests were adopted independent of the main test facility. Presented are the key experiences of the M1 Test Facility which lead to improved specifications or identified the need for additional testing outside of the M1 Test Facility.
The fifth mirror of the European Extremely Large Telescope optical train is a field stabilization tip/tilt unit responsible for correcting the dynamical tip and tilt caused mainly by wind load on the telescope. A scale-one prototype including the inclined support, the fixed frame and a basic control system was designed and manufactured by NTE-SENER (Spain) and CSEM (Switzerland) as part of the prototyping and design activities. All interfaces to the mirror have been reproduced on a dummy structure reproducing the inertial characteristics of the optical element. The M5 unit is required to have sufficient bandwidth for tip/tilt reference commands coming from the wavefront control system. Such a bandwidth can be achieved using local active damping loop to damp the low frequency mechanical modes before closing a position loop. Prototyping on the M5 unit has been undertaken in order to demonstrate the E-ELT control system architecture, concepts and development standards and to further study active damping strategies. The control system consists of two nested loops: a local damping loop and a position loop. The development of this control system was undertaken following the E-ELT control system development standards in order to determine their applicability and performance and includes hardware selection, communication, synchronization, configuration, and data logging. In this paper we present the current status of the prototype M5 control system and the latest results on the active damping control strategy, in particular the promising results obtained with the method of positive position feedback.
During the advanced design phase of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) several critical components
have been prototyped. During the last year some of them have been tested in dedicated test stands. In particular, a
representative section of the E-ELT primary mirror has been assembled with 2 active and 2 passive segments. This test
stand is equipped with complete prototype segment subunits, i.e. including support mechanisms, glass segments, edge sensors, position actuators as well as additional metrology for monitoring. The purpose is to test various procedures such as calibration, alignment and handling and to study control strategies. In addition the achievable component and subsystem performances are evaluated, and interface issues are identified. In this paper an overview of the activities related to the E-ELT M1 Test Facility will be given. Experiences and test results are presented.
The Australian Consortium for Gravitational Astronomy has built a High Optical Power Test Facility north of Perth, Western Australia. Current experiments in collaboration with LIGO are testing thermal lensing compensation, and suspension control on an 80m baseline suspended optical cavity. Future experiments will test radiation pressure instabilities and optical spring in a high power optical cavity with ~200kW circulating power. Once issues of operation and control have been resolved, the facility will go on to assess the noise performance of the high optical power technology through operation of an advanced interferometer with sapphire tests masses, and high performance suspension and isolation systems. The facility combines research and development undertaken by all consortium members, which latest results are presented.
FLAMES is the VLT Fibre Facility, installed and being commissioned at the Nasmyth A of UT2 (Kueyen Telescope). FLAMES has been built and assembled at the VLT telescope in about 4 years through an international collaboration between 10 institutes in 6 countries and 3 continents. It had first light with the fibre link to the red arm of UVES on April 1, and with the GIRAFFE spectrograph on July 3. We have not yet enough data to compare the observed vs. expected astronomical performances, although these first data are encouraging in many respects. We aim at proceeding soon with the remaining tests
This paper presents miscellaneous activities related to instrumentation taking place at Paranal Observatory. The number of instruments and / or facilities that will eventually equip the Observatory (VLT, VLTI, VST, VISTA)is about 20. An adequate organization (human and technical)is required to ensure configuration control and efficient preventive and corrective maintenance (hardware and software). Monitoring instrument performance is a key feature to guarantee success of operations and minimize technical downtime. Some observational projects are carried out with the aim of characterizing the Paranal sky conditions in the visible and the IR, in emission and absorption. Efforts are being developed to monitor, characterize and archive the transparency conditions at night.