The NOVA instrumentation program

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 Extremely Large Telescope (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: