A team consisting of Felix and Menno traveled to Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in Nice, France. Their task was to repair the MATISSE instrument that will combine all 4 ESO-VLT telescopes into one giant interferometer. The tight specifications were no longer met, due to wear of one critical part during testing. The result was that the instrument was no longer aligned with nanometer precision in all instrument modes. The damaged part was repaired in Dwingeloo, redesigned in such a way that wear would be minimized and successfully installed and tested over Christmas. I cannot wait to see MATISSE commissioned at Paranal in 2017.
At the same time a team consisting of Johan and Eddy traveled to Cambridge for the WEAVE consortium meeting. WEAVE is the multi object spectrograph for the William Herschel Telescope on La Palma, Canary Islands. The spectrograph is developed by the NOVA team and consists of dozens of optical components in the range of 300mm to a meter size. The Final Design Review has been passed successfully, parts are under construction and 2017 is the year when all the hardware will be integrated in the cleanroom in Dwingeloo.
Meanwhile the MeerLICHT telescope, a prototype for the BlackGEM telescope array, was shipped from Dwingeloo to the Radboud University in Nijmegen, and integrated on site by Rik and Dirk. The 65cm diameter MeerLICHT telescope is an optical telescope with a 110 Megapixel detector, to be located at the Sutherland site of the South Africa Astronomical Observatory, and to be twinned to the MeerKAT radio telescope. In the first quarter of 2017 it will be shipped to South Africa.
Simultaneously ESO came to Delft in the Netherlands with a large delegation, bringing some good news on the 39meter diameter European Extremely Large Telescope. The VDL-TNO-NOVA design of the M1 Support Structure has been selected for construction of the telescope. The main mirror of this telescope consists of 798 hexagonal segments of ~1.5 meter diameter (including spares this is nearly 1000 elements). The purpose of the support structure is to hold the shape of the mirror with nanometer accuracy, while the telescope could be pointing at any location in the sky in high winds. An ingenious design and over ten thousand motors enable this precision.
In Groningen, the MICADO team with Willem and Ramon, met in order to discuss a multi approach for astrometry. MICADO is the first light camera for the European Extremely Large Telescope and works in the near infrared. The diffraction limit of the E-ELT is a few milliarcseconds, but the astrometry needs to be precise to the microarcsecond level. This level of accuracy can only be met by an ingenious integrated design of the hardware, software and calibration strategy. The NOVA instrumentation team works intimately together with both astronomers and with the Target team that specializes in large-scale data management and information systems.
With such a wealth of external action, the actual focus of the NOVA activities was in Dwingeloo, where many people combine their creativity and effort to develop METIS. METIS is the mid-infrared imager and spectrograph for the ELT, and NOVA is the PI institute for this consortium, with contributions by 7 countries. In 2016 the METIS team transformed drastically with respect to project management and systems engineering and currently the team is expanding rapidly. It will take at least 7 more years to fully develop METIS, and in 2017 the team prepares for the Preliminary Design Review.
The projects highlighted here are nowhere near a complete overview of the activities of the NOVA optical infrared instrumentation group. A more elaborate overview was presented at the lively Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation Conference in Edinburgh last year.
We cannot discuss 2016 without mentioning the NOVA evaluation that took place. The Evaluation Board concluded that NOVA retained its “Exemplary” status! There was praise all around for both the research, instrumentation and societal relevance parts of the program. Both instrument teams were even mentioned to be ‘brilliant’, which seems an excellent way to close this annual review.
I thank you all for your contributions in 2016 and wish you all the best for 2017!
In 2016 NOVA wrote:
X Academic Publications, published in Refereed Journals
X Academic Publications, published in Non-refereed Journals and other scientific publications
X Contribution to books
X Professional publications and products
Download the list to get access to all the publications of NOVA: