The NOVA instrumentation program

 |  Instrumentation

From the outset, the interrelated research and instrumentation programs are the two fundamental pillars under the NOVA collaboration. The NOVA philosophy is that cutting-edge science is the product of training top scientific talent and providing them with access to state-of the art research facilities. The tight connection between science and instrumentation has many advantages: intimate knowledge of the instrument design and capabilities allows NOVA astronomers to maximize the scientific output. The instrumentation expertise also means that the NOVA community is aware of emerging technologies that will be needed to answer new scientific questions that are beyond the capabilities of today’s astronomical instruments. Lastly, investing in instrumentation allows NOVA astronomers to be the first to use many new instruments through allocated time arrangements.

NOVA has concentrated on developing instruments for the optical and infrared wavelength ranges and sub-mm instruments for the ALMA telescope array. Strong collaborations are also maintained with the Dutch institutes ASTRON on instrumentation for radio astronomy and SRON for space instruments. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has been the focus of most NOVA instrumentation efforts, with NOVA acting as the Dutch national home base for ESO.

The NOVA instrumental program is highly successful: to date, NOVA has delivered or made sizable contributions to six instruments for ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), with a seventh, MATISSE, currently undergoing final integration and testing at the PI institute in Nice. Four projects are currently underway for instruments for the future European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) of which one, the mid-infrared imager and spectrograph METIS, has formally been approved for design and construction. As the PI institute, NOVA is leading the development of this instrument. NOVA has played a leading role in the design and construction of the Band-9 receiver cartridges for ALMA and is currently leading the work on the Band-5 cartridges.

The different instrumentation projects that NOVA is, or has been, involved in are listed below:

Instruments in Development

Optical & infrared instrumentation

METIS, the Mid-Infrared E-ELT Imager & Spectrograph.

MICADO, the E-ELT Multi-AO Imaging Camera for Deep Observations.

MOSAIC, the proposed Multi-Object Spectrograph for the E-ELT.

EPICS, the proposed Exoplanet Imaging Camera and Spectrograph for the E-ELT.

MATISSE, the second-generation instrument for the VLT interferometer.

WEAVE, a multi-object spectrometer and multi-integral-field-unit (IFU) facility at the William Herschel Telescope on La Palma.

BlackGEM, a sensitive, wide-field optical transient survey.

Sub-mm instrumentation

ALMA Band-5 receivers for the Atacama Large (sub)Millimeter Array.

Space instrumentation

MIRI, the Mid-InfraRed Instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope.

Gaia, the new European astrometry space mission.

Euclid, a European space telescope to study dark matter and energy.

Miscellaneous projects

ARTS, the APERTIF Radio Transient System, a wide-field high time resolution radio transient system for the Westerbork radio telescope array.

OmegaCEN, the state-of-the-art eScience infrastructure for archiving and analysing large sets of astronomical data.

AMUSE, the Astronomical Multi-purpose Software Environment, a component library for simulating astrophysical phenomenae.

Laboratory astrophysics, comprising high-vacuum cryogenic facilities for simulating chemical processes in the interstellar medium.

Completed instruments

Optical & infrared instrumentation

SPHERE, the new high-contrast imaging instrument on the VLT.

OmegaCAM, the wide-field imaging camera for the VLT survey telescope.

X-shooter, the multi-wavelength (300-2500 nm) VLT medium resolution spectrograph.

VISIR, the VLT imager and spectrograph for the infrared.

SINFONI, the near-infrared (1.1 — 2.45 µm) integral field spectrograph at the VLT.

MIDI, the first-generation infrared instrument for the VLT interferometer.

Sub-mm instrumentation

ALMA Band-9 receivers for the Atacama Large (sub)Millimeter Array.