In this paper we will report on the status of the instrumentation project for the European Southern Observatory's Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). Three instruments are in the construction phase: HARMONI, MICADO and METIS. The multi-conjugate adaptive optics system for MICADO, MAORY, is also under development. Preliminary Design Reviews of all of these systems are planned to be completed by mid-2019. The construction of a laser tomographic module for HARMONI is part of "Phase 2" of the ELT: the design has been advanced to Preliminary Design level in order to define the interface to the HARMONI spectrograph. Preparations for the next instruments have also been proceeding in parallel with the development of these instruments. Conceptual design studies for the multi-object spectrograph MOSAIC, and for the high resolution spectrograph HIRES have been completed and reviewed. We present the current design of each of these instruments and will summarise the work ongoing at ESO related to their development.
Over the last few years, the ESO’s ELT has made tremendous progress in defining and procuring the many components of one of the future world largest optical-infrared telescopes. More than two dozen large scale contracts have been placed to industry to design and manufacture several items, among them the dome, the telescope structure, the mirrors and their supports, the control system, the infrastructure, and more. In addition, four agreements were signed with consortia of astronomical research institutes to develop the first suite of scientific instruments. As of today, this represents a financial commitment of more than 90% of the total ESO material budget for the ELT.
A suite of seven instruments and associated AO systems have been planned as the "E-ELT Instrumentation Roadmap". Following the E-ELT project approval in December 2014, rapid progress has been made in organising and signing the agreements for construction with European universities and institutes. Three instruments (HARMONI, MICADO and METIS) and one MCAO module (MAORY) have now been approved for construction. In addition, Phase-A studies have begun for the next two instruments - a multi-object spectrograph and high-resolution spectrograph. Technology development is also ongoing in preparation for the final instrument in the roadmap, the planetary camera and spectrograph. We present a summary of the status and capabilities of this first set of instruments for the E-ELT.
ESO is now fully engaged in building the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), a 40-m class optical nearinfrared telescope to be installed on top of Cerro Armazones, Chile and become operational around 2025. The Programme was formally approved by ESO Council back in 2012. However the required funding level for starting construction was actually reached in 2014, leading to a Green Light to start large construction contracts in December of that year. Since then, the programme has entered a very busy phase leading to the signature of the first major industrial contracts as well as the agreements with scientific institutes in ESO Member States to design and built the first suite of science instruments. This paper summarizes the current status of the E-ELT Programme and presents some aspects related to scientific objectives, managerial organization, programmatic aspects and system engineering approach. It also outlines the procurement strategies put in place to achieve the goal of the Programme: building the 'world's biggest eye on the sky' within the next decade.
The highest sky quality demands for astronomical research impose to locate observatories often in areas not easily reached by the existing power infrastructures. At the same time, availability and cost of power is a primary factor for sustainable operations. Power may also be a potential source for CO2 pollution. As part of its green initiatives, ESO is in the process of replacing the power sources for its own, La Silla and Paranal-Armazones, and shared, ALMA, installations in Chile in order to provide them with more reliable, affordable, and smaller CO2 footprint power solutions. The connectivity to the Chilean interconnected power systems (grid) which is to extensively use Non-Conventional Renewable Energy (NCRE) as well as the use of less polluting fuels wherever self-generation cannot be avoided are key building blocks for the solutions selected for every site. In addition, considerations such as the environmental impact and - if required - the partnership with other entities have also to be taken into account. After years of preparatory work to which the Chilean Authorities provided great help and support, ESO has now launched an articulated program to upgrade the existing agreements/facilities in i) the La Silla Observatory, from free to regulated grid client status due to an agreement with a Solar Farm private initiative, in ii) the Paranal-Armazones Observatory, from local generation using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to connection to the grid which is to extensively use NCRE, and last but not least, in iii) the ALMA Observatory where ESO participates together with North American and East Asian partners, from replacing the LPG as fuel for the turbine local generation system with the use of less polluting natural gas (NG) supplied by a pipe connection to eliminate the pollution caused by the LPG trucks (currently 1 LPG truck from the VIII region, Bio Bio, to the II region, ALMA and back every day, for a total of 3000km). The technologies used and the status of completion of the different projects, as well as the expected benefits are discussed in this paper.
The European Extremely Large Telescope is a project of the European Southern Observatory to build and operate a 40-m
class optical near-infrared telescope. The telescope design effort is largely concluded and construction contracts are
being placed with industry and academic/research institutes for the various components. The siting of the telescope in
Northern Chile close to the Paranal site allows for an integrated operation of the facility providing significant economies.
The progress of the project in various areas is presented in this paper and references to other papers at this SPIE meeting
The ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) is the first general-user interferometer that offers near- and mid-infrared long-baseline interferometric observations in service and visitor mode to the whole astronomical community. Over the last two years, the VLTI has moved into its regular science operation mode with the two science instruments, MIDI and AMBER, both on all four 8m Unit Telescopes and the first three 1.8m Auxiliary Telescopes. We are currently devoting up to half of the available time for science, the rest is used for characterization and improvement of the existing system, plus additional installations. Since the first fringes with the VLTI on a star were obtained on March 17, 2001, there have been five years of scientific observations, with the different instruments, different telescopes and baselines. These observations have led so far to more than 40 refereed publications. We describe the current status of the VLTI and give an outlook for its near future.
The first of the Unit telescopes of the VLT has now been in operation for 5 years. The complete array has been producing scientific results since 2001 and the VLTI has in the past few months celebrated common user status with MIDI on the Unit telescopes. With the first of four auxiliary telescope already on site and VST and VISTA in construction, Paranal observatory is rapidly reaching maturity. Combining the power of these facilities with service observing and full user support the VLT is already having a significant impact on astronomy. In this paper we review our operations and present some metrics of what we believe is success.
On March 17, 2001, the VLT interferometer saw for the first time interferometric fringes on sky with its two test siderostats on a 16m baseline. Seven months later, on October 29, 2001, fringes were found with two of the four 8.2m Unit Telescopes (UTs), named Antu and Melipal, spanning a baseline of 102m. First shared risk science operations with VLTI will start in October 2002. The time between these milestones is used for further integration as well as for commissioning of the interferometer with the goal to understand all its characteristics and to optimize performance and observing procedures. In this article we will describe the various commissioning tasks carried out and present some results of our work.
We report on the ongoing VLT Laser Guide Star Facility project, which will allow the ESO UT4 telescope to produce an artificial reference star for the Adaptive Optics systems NAOS-CONICA and SINFONI. A custom developed dye laser producing >10W CW at 589nm is installed on-board of the UT4 telescope, then relayed by means of a single mode optical fiber behind the secondary mirror, where a 500mm diameter lightweight, f/1 launch telescope is projecting the laser beam at 90 km altitude.
We described the design tradeoffs and provide some details of the chosen subsystems. This paper is an update including subsystems results, to be read together with our previous paper on LGSF design description.
We report in this paper on the design and progress of the ESO Laser Guide Star Facility. The project will create a user facility embedded in UT4, to produce in the Earth's Mesosphere Laser Guide Stars, which extend the sky coverage of Adaptive Optics systems on the VLT UT4 telescope. Embedded into the project are provisions for multiple LGS to cope with second generation MCAO instruments.
The success of the VLT telescopes is largely linked to the excellent performance and reliability of the primary mirror and secondary mirror systems. By March 2000, three sets of these mirrors will have been successfully integrated, aligned, tuned and tested. As with all advanced and complex opto-mechanical systems, there has been the usual teething problems and trouble shooting. In addition the VLT primary mirrors, being a particularly thin and fragile meniscus, require careful manipulation during transport, installation in the M1 Cell and during the periodic removal for coating. During the VLT design, significant engineering effort was devoted to this problem. This has resulted in the design of dedicated subsystems and in the preparation of a series of procedures for mirror handling which are safe and practical.