This spectrograph, designed and constructed by the IAC will arrive tomorrow at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory.
Today, Thursday 19th May, the transportation of the infrared spectrograph to the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the Island of La Palma will begin. It will leave from the Headquarters of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canrias (IAC) on a transporter lorry, to be put on board a ship in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It will arrive tomorrow, Friday, at the port of Santa Cruz de la Palma, and will then be transported up to the observatory.
“It’s an instrument which uses innovative observing techniques “ says Francisco Garzón, who is the Principal Investigator on the project “with high precision mechanisms which give it operational versatility, and it will be on the biggest telescope in the world. The sum of these factors will make it a powerful instrument. We estimate that it will take between three and six months to commission it and set it up, before it can enter the phase of routine scientific observations. However we do hope to obtain data of scientific quality during first three months after its first light.”
“As it is a cryogenic instrumejt, which will be at -200ºC and under vacuum while it operates, EMIR will be in a purely integration and set-up phase for a month before its first scientific verification tests” says Mary Barreto, the technical manager of the proyect
EMIR is an instrument designed, built, assembled, and verified entirely at the IAC. It will produce images and perform spectroscopy in the near infrared, which will allow us to observe the coldest and most distant objects in the universe. It will be another multi-user instrument for the GTC, as is OSIRIS, an optical spectrograph which was also designed and built at the IAC,. It is hoped that it will give results of high importance in extragalactic and galactic astrophysics. For example, what OSIRIS can observe in the optical from the group of galaxies around the Milky Way (the Local Group), EMIR will be able to pick up in the galaxies which are their precursors, as it will be able to look back in time by reaching the distant, early universe.
It is a technically highly complex instrument, which gives a partial explanation for its long development time, of over a decade. To begin with, it is completely cryogenic,: it is enclosed within a tank which during operations has a temperature of -200ºC in its interior, and within which its various components must work with a precision of a few microns. It offers many operational modes, giving a high degree of versatility and power, but it also implies considerable difficulty in optimizing its operations at the telescope, which could give rise to a long time scale during setting up, once it has been installed.
The media in Tenerife who are interested will be able to take pictures as the lorry leaves the IAC Headquarters today between 15 h and 16 h. As the instrument will be covered, pictures of the wrapping process can be supplied.
In La Palma, the arrival of EMIR at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory is estimated to be at 10.30 h. The media will also be allowed to take pictures of the reception and unwrapping of the instrument in the neighbourhood of the GTC, and must follow the security rules given by the observatory personnel.