Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paranal Receives New Mirror

21.04.2008
Survey telescope nears completion
A 4.1-metre diameter primary mirror, a vital part of the world's newest and fastest survey telescope, VISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) has been delivered to its new mountaintop home at Cerro Paranal, Chile. The mirror will now be coupled with a small camera for initial testing prior to installing the main camera in June. Full scientific operations are due to start early next year. VISTA will form part of ESO's Very Large Telescope facility.

The mirror arrived over the Easter weekend at the Paranal Observatory where the telescope is being assembled at an altitude of 2518m, in Chile's Atacama Desert.

VISTA Project Manager Alistair McPherson from STFC's UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) accompanied the mirror on its journey to Chile: "This is a major milestone for the VISTA project. The precious mirror was loaded on to a plane in a special cradle that used tennis balls to cushion it from impact for its arduous journey across three continents. "

"The mirror had a difficult four-day journey, by air and by road. It arrived in perfect condition and now that it has been coated, we will install the mirror in the telescope with a small test camera for about four weeks testing. We plan to install the main camera in June," said the Project Scientist on VISTA, Will Sutherland of Queen Mary, University of London, UK.

The VISTA 4.1-metre diameter primary mirror is the most strongly curved large mirror ever polished to such a precise and exacting surface accuracy - deviations from a perfect surface of less than 1/3000th of the thickness of a human hair. On arrival at Cerro Paranal it was safely craned into the telescope dome where it was washed and coated with a thin layer of protected silver in the facility's coating plant. Silver is the best metal for the purpose since it reflects over 98% of near-infrared light, better than the more commonly used aluminium. To date, the reflectivity produced by the silver coating- a relatively new venture - is well above that specified and exceeds all other telescopes.

VISTA will survey large areas of the southern sky at near infrared wavelengths (2 to 4 times the wavelength of visible light) to study objects that are not seen easily in optical light either because they are too cool (such as brown dwarfs), or are surrounded by interstellar dust which infrared light penetrates much better than optical, or whose optical light is redshifted into the near infrared by the expansion of the Universe. Amongst other things VISTA's surveys will help our understanding of the nature and distribution and origin of known types of stars and galaxies, map the 3-D structure of our galaxy, and help determine the relation between the 3-D structure of the universe and the mysterious 'dark energy' and dark matter'. Samples of objects will be followed up in detail with further observations by other telescopes and instruments such as the nearby Very Large Telescope.

"The delivery of the last component of VISTA is a significant milestone and we are delighted with the progress made since the mirror arrived. Now astronomers can really look forward to being able to perform unparalleled observing of our Southern skies," said Richard Wade, President of the ESO Council and STFC Chief Operating Officer.

VISTA is a 55 million euro project, funded by grants from the UK DTI's Joint Infrastructure Fund and the STFC to Queen Mary, University of London, the lead institute of the VISTA Consortium. VISTA forms part of the UK's subscription to ESO and will be an ESO telescope. VISTA is project managed by STFC's UK Astronomy Technology Centre. The VISTA web page is at http://www.vista.ac.uk.

Contacts
Will Sutherland
VISTA Project Scientist,
Queen Mary, University of London, UK
Phone: +44 7889 396 348
E-mail: w.j.sutherland (at) qmul.ac.uk
Natalie Bealing
Science and Technology Facilities Council Press Office
Phone: +44 1235 445484
E-mail: n.d.bealing (at) stfc.ac.uk

Henri Boffin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vista.ac.uk
http://www.eso.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Researchers discover link between magnetic field strength and temperature
21.08.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>