From NOAO: “NEID Installation and Commissioning Update”

From National Optical Astronomy Observatory

Dan Li (NSF‘s OIR Lab)

Commissioning of the NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler spectroscopy (NEID) instrument has begun at WIYN Observatory, as marked by the delivery of the NEID port adapter. The port adapter, which has been developed by NSF’s OIR Lab in close collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the NEID team, provides crucial basic functions such as target acquisition, fast tip-tilt for guiding, and correction of atmospheric dispersion for the NEID spectrograph.

Port adapter after installation

The FedEx truck that carried the port adapter arrived at Kitt Peak on 17 October 2019,accompanied by the UW team. After assembly (a number of key optical and electronic components had been stored in separate cases during shipping) and a post-shipping health check, the adapter was installed on WIYN’s folded Cassegrain port on 21 October.

NOAO WIYN Telescope, Kitt Peak National Observatory, Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

After another week of intense work (e.g., cabling, optical alignment, electronic and mechanical functionality tests, software integration into the WIYN network and computer system), the port adapter acquired its first light on 29 October with closed-loop (50 Hz) guiding using the fast tip-tilt mirror and the port adapter’s internal camera.

Image from the port adapter camera

Over the following nights, we had successfully closed loops on targets down to 14th magnitude (V-band). The guiding dispersion is better than 70 milliarcseconds over 5-minute intervals for bright sources (V < 12 magnitude).

NEID spectrograph in the WIYN cleanroom

The NEID spectrograph, built at The Pennsylvania State University, arrived at Kitt Peak on 28 October. The 2-ton vacuum chamber and many of NEID’s supporting and calibration instruments were safely transferred into two connecting cleanrooms inside the WIYN building after being unloaded outside the dome. With help from the OIR Lab personnel, the PSU team spent the following two weeks installing equipment in the cleanrooms, routing cables, opening the vacuum chamber to inspect all the optics and fibers, and waking up the CCD detector, among other activities. The pumping and cooling of the cryostat is now underway. First light with the spectrograph is anticipated later this month, and shared risk science is expected to begin in December 2019.

See the full article here.


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NOAO is the US national research & development center for ground-based night-time astronomy. Our mission is to provide public access to qualified professional researchers to forefront scientific capabilities on telescopes operated by NOAO as well as other optical and infrared telescopes. Today, these telescopes range in aperture size from 2-m to 10-m.

In support of this mission, NOAO is participating in the development of telescopes with aperture sizes of 20-m and larger as well as a unique 8-m telescope that will make a 10-year movie of the Southern sky. NOAO is also engaged in programs to develop the next generation of instruments and software tools necessary to enable exploration and investigation through the observable Universe, from planets orbiting other stars to the most distant galaxies in the Universe.