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VISIR Upgrade Overview and Status

Kerber, Florian and Käufl, Hans U. and Baksai, Pedro and Di Lieto, Nicola and Dobrzycka, Danuta and Duhoux, Philippe and Finger, Gert and Heikamp, Stefanie and Ives, Derek and Jakob, Gerd and Lundin, Lars and Mawet, Dimitri and Mehrgan, Leander and Momany, Yazan and Moreau, Vincent and Pantin, Eric and Riquelme, Miguel and Sandrock, Stefan and Siebenmorgen, Ralf and Smette, Alain and Taylor, Julian and van den Ancker, Mario and Valdes, Guillermo and Venema, Lars and Weilenmann, Ueli (2014) VISIR Upgrade Overview and Status. In: Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V. Proceedings of SPIE. No.9147. Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) , Bellingham, WA, Art. No. 91470C. ISBN 9780819496157.

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We present an overview of the VISIR upgrade project. VISIR is the mid-infrared imager and spectrograph at ESO’s VLT. The project team is comprised of ESO staff and members of the original VISIR consortium: CEA Saclay and ASTRON. The project plan is based on input from the ESO user community with the goal of enhancing the scientific performance and efficiency of VISIR by a combination of measures: installation of improved hardware, optimization of instrument operations and software support. The cornerstone of the upgrade is the 1k by 1k Si:As AQUARIUS detector array (Raytheon) which has been carefully characterized in ESO’s IR detector test facility (modified TIMMI 2 instrument). A prism spectroscopic mode will cover the N-band in a single observation. New scientific capabilities for high resolution and high-contrast imaging will be offered by sub-aperture mask (SAM) and phase-mask coronagraphic (4QPM/AGPM) modes. In order to make optimal use of favourable atmospheric conditions a water vapour monitor has been deployed on Paranal, allowing for real-time decisions and the introduction of a user-defined constraint on water vapour. During the commissioning in 2012 it was found that the on-sky sensitivity of the AQUARIUS detector was significantly below expectations and that VISIR was not ready to go back to science operations. Extensive testing of the detector arrays in the laboratory and on-sky enabled us to diagnose the cause for the shortcoming of the detector as excess low frequency noise (ELFN). It is inherent to the design chosen for this detector and can’t be remedied by changing the detector set-up. Since this is a form of correlated noise its impact can be limited by modulating the scene recorded by the detector. We have studied several mitigation options and found that faster chopping using the secondary mirror (M2) of the VLT offers the most promising way forward. Faster M2 chopping has been tested and is scheduled for implementation before the end of 2014 after which we plan to re-commission VISIR. In addition an upgrade of the IT infrastructure related to VISIR is planned in order to support burst-mode operations. The upgraded VISIR will be a powerful instrument providing close to background limited performance for diffraction-limited observations at an 8-m telescope. It will offer synergy with facilities such as ALMA, JWST, VLTI and SOFIA, while a wealth of targets is available from survey work (e.g. VISTA, WISE). In addition it will bring confirmation of the technical readiness and scientific value of several aspects of potential mid-IR instrumentation at Extremely Large Telescopes.

Item Type:Book Section
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Mawet, Dimitri0000-0002-8895-4735
Additional Information:© 2014 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Paper published July 31, 2014.
Subject Keywords:VISIR, upgrade, ESO VLT, mid-IR, AQUARIUS, excess low frequency noise, chopping, water vapour
Series Name:Proceedings of SPIE
Issue or Number:9147
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150521-122919960
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Official Citation:Florian Kerber ; Hans-Ulrich Käufl ; Pedro Baksai ; Nicola Di Lieto ; Danuta Dobrzycka, et al. " VISIR upgrade overview and status ", Proc. SPIE 9147, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V, 91470C (July 31, 2014); doi:10.1117/12.2055172;
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:57741
Deposited On:21 May 2015 20:02
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 21:54

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