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  • richardmitnick 8:23 am on July 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO E-ELT, , SPACE DAILY   

    From SPACE DAILY: “New Method Finds Best Candidates for Telescope Time” 

    Temp 1

    SPACE DAILY

    Jul 22, 2015
    Amanda Doyle for Astrobiology Magazine

    If life exists on planets beyond our Solar System, its presence could be obscured by the haze and clouds in the planet’s atmosphere. Even next generation telescopes – such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as well as ground-based telescopes like the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) – will have a hard time penetrating such hazy worlds in search of biomarkers.

    NASA Webb Telescope
    NASA/Webb

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO E-ELT Interior
    ESO/E-ELT

    Astronomers Amit Misra and Victoria Meadows of the University of Washington have developed a new technique to check if a planet has clear skies, which will make it easier for astrobiologists to target the most promising exoplanet candidates for life. Their research has been published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and was funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute element of the Astrobiology Program at NASA.

    1
    Light being refracted in the atmosphere of the Earth can sometimes create a halo around the Sun or Moon. Similarly, light from another star being refracted in an exoplanet atmosphere can cause an increase in the amount of light detected from the star just before the planet transits. Image courtesy Doug Wilson.

    Hazy worlds

    As a planet transits a star, light from that star passes through the planet’s atmosphere and certain molecules in the planet’s atmosphere absorb the light, enabling astronomers to measure the composition of the atmosphere. This technique is known as transit transmission spectroscopy, and extending this to Earth-like planets is quite a challenge.

    The height of the atmosphere of a potentially habitable planet is minuscule compared to that of a gas giant or icy planet close to its host star, so catching the light of the star as it passes through the atmosphere of an Earth-like planet will require extremely lengthy observations. For example, JWST would require around 200 hours to detect the spectrum, while the E-ELT would need at least 20 hours. Even with extensive observations, it is possible that the spectrum would reveal nothing if all the atmospheric features were masked by clouds or haze.

    “We’ve seen a couple of cases already in which observers have spent substantial telescope time on a single target only to get a flat, featureless spectrum,” says Misra. “Telescope time is valuable, so it would be useful to know which exoplanets to spend hundreds of hours on beforehand.”

    Planets with halos

    Misra and Meadows have thought of a solution to this problem. On Earth, light can be refracted by ice crystals in the atmosphere resulting in a halo around the Sun or Moon. The same principle can be applied to exoplanets, as the starlight being refracted in the planet’s atmosphere can create a halo around the planet.

    Transiting exoplanets are revealed through a regular dip in light from the star. The refraction halo amplifies the light a little so that it can be seen as a bump in the light curve.

    “We can see the effect in the light curve prior to and after the transit itself, and you don’t need transit transmission spectroscopy, you could just measure brightness,” explains Meadows.

    A planet covered in clouds or haze would not refract light easily, as the atmospheric layer where the refraction occurs would be murky and block the light. Therefore, if refraction was detected, it would imply that the planet has a clear atmosphere and is an excellent target for follow up spectroscopy.

    The scientists used computer models to predict the strength of the refractive signal that would be detected for different types of planetary atmospheres. They simulated Solar System planet atmospheres, as well as super-Earths and mini-Neptunes, while also taking into account the distance of the planet from the star, as this will affect the angle of deflection of the light.

    Their results showed that planets akin to Saturn would have the highest signal, as they are large in size. They also have the advantage of having a lower surface gravity than the higher mass Jupiter planets, meaning that the atmosphere is quite extended. For both Jupiter and Saturn analogue planets, JWST could detect a refracted light signal in less than ten hours. E-ELT could detect signals from super-Earths and mini-Neptunes in the same amount of time. In contrast, a hazy planet would need more than 100 hours of E-ELT time before the refraction signal could be distinguished.

    Earth-like atmospheres

    E-ELT has the potential to detect habitable exoplanets with clear skies. Of course this does not mean that no clouds are present at all, as clouds on Earth are essential for the water cycle.

    “Earth’s water clouds are typically close to the surface, and while they can reduce the detectability of molecular absorption features in transit transmission, work that I and others have done has shown that it should still be possible to detect features from gases like carbon dioxide, water, and possibly even oxygen for a cloudy, Earth-like planet,” says Misra.

    This new work is an important step forward towards characterizing atmospheres of Earth-like planets. By only needing a few hours of E-ELT time to see if a planet has an atmosphere worthy of follow up, the longer observations can then be used to acquire the spectra that are vital in the search for life.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 2:38 pm on July 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “First Instruments for E-ELT Approved” 


    European Southern Observatory

    10 July 2015
    Lars Lindberg Christensen
    Head of ESO ePOD
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
    Cell: +49 173 3872 621
    Email: lars@eso.org

    1

    [This composite image of the new instruments is all that is available at this time. When better images are made available, they will be captured and used.]

    Following the recommendations of the ESO Finance Committee (FC) and Scientific Technical Committee (STC), Council authorised the Director General to sign the contracts for the first set of instruments for the E-ELT. These huge and innovative tools to analyse the light collected by the giant telescope will allow the E-ELT to address a wide range of astronomical questions soon after its completion. The choices are based on extensive input from the astronomical communities in ESO’s Member States.

    This instrumentation package comprises a near-infrared imager with spectroscopic capability (MICADO), a multi-conjugate adaptive optics unit (MAORY), which will feed MICADO (and possibly additional future instruments); an integral field spectrograph (HARMONI), along with development of its laser tomography adaptive optics system to preliminary design review level; and a mid-infrared imager and spectrometer (METIS).

    MICADO, coupled with MAORY, will allow the full resolution of the telescope to be brought to bear on many current areas of research. A key driver for the instrument design is astrometric accuracy. Such detailed measurements of the positions of objects will allow, amongst other projects, the orbits of stars around the black hole at the centre of our galaxy to be tracked with unprecedented precision.

    HARMONI will make 3D observations of astronomical objects on scales ranging from planetary orbits to entire galaxies. One example of the potential of such an instrument is that HARMONI will enable us to understand the formation and evolution of galaxies from the earliest times in the history of the Universe right up until the present day.

    The METIS instrument, working at longer wavelengths, will also have a wide range of applications across all branches of astronomy. It will provide an invaluable link for astronomers wishing to follow up discoveries made with the James Webb Space Telescope by providing far greater spatial detail and dynamical information than can be achieved from space.

    Selection of the science capabilities of the E-ELT was a communal effort based on dedicated meetings and workshops and the work of the science teams of the instrument Phase A studies carried out during the E-ELT Phase B design. The Science Working Group (SWG) of the E-ELT Science and Engineering subcommittee (ESE) of the STC contributed to the final science case, developing the science priorities and the sequence of instruments. These were encapsulated in an instrumentation roadmap that was part of the E-ELT construction proposal. The requirements were refined and finalised by the Project Science Team after the completion of Phase B.

    The construction of these instruments is included within the Phase 1 E-ELT Programme approved by Council in December 2014.

    See the full article here.

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 7:49 am on June 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “Contract Signed for Final Design and Construction of Largest Adaptive Mirror Unit in the World” 


    European Southern Observatory

    19 June 2015

    Elise Vernet
    ESO, Adaptive Optics Department (Instrumentation)
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 320 06 322
    Fax: +49 89 320 2362
    Email: evernet@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO, Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1

    ESO has signed a contract with the AdOptica consortium in Italy — ADS International and Microgate, partnered with INAF (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica) as subcontractors — for the final design and construction of the very challenging adaptive unit for the fourth mirror (M4) of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). This mirror system will surpass any adaptive mirror ever made for a telescope and be the largest of its kind.

    The contract was signed by representatives of AdOptica and ESO at a ceremony at ESO Headquarters on 19 June 2015.

    The AdOptica contract does not include the manufacture of the shell mirrors themselves. These will be constructed under a separate contract that will be announced soon.

    The M4 deformable 2.4-metre mirror system forms a fundamental part of the E-ELT. It consists of a mirror made from six component petals, actuators and control systems that can correct the image distortion caused by the turbulence of the Earth’s atmosphere in real time, as well as correct for deformations of the structure of the main telescope caused by wind. The corrected optical system will make the images obtained at the telescope almost as sharp as those taken in space [1].

    Construction of a mirror system like this has never been attempted before and studies began in 2008 with two competitive contracts for a preliminary design for the E-ELT. In 2012, AdOptica was selected from two competitive designs. Since 2012, AdOptica has developed the preliminary design for the unit. The design has evolved significantly to fulfil stability requirements. The preliminary design review was successfully passed in April 2015 and the company has demonstrated the design with a one-metre mirror demonstration prototype that fulfils ESO’s performance requirements.

    The new contract will be for the final design and manufacturing of the M4 unit. The planning calls for the final design to be completed by mid-2017, and then the unit will be manufactured and tested in Europe against the performance requirements before being shipped to Chile by the end of 2022.
    Notes

    [1] The mirror’s shape is controlled by approximately 5700 actuators. A hexapod allows tip/tilt and large lateral movements.

    See the full article here.

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    LaSilla

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    VLT

    ESO Vista Telescope
    VISTA

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope

    ALMA Array
    ALMA

    ESO E-ELT
    E-ELT

    ESO APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) Telescope

     
  • richardmitnick 5:52 pm on December 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT,   

    From ESO: ESOcast 70 The E-ELT is Green Lighted 


    European Southern Observatory

    The European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT for short, will be by far the largest optical and near-infrared telescope in the world. In early December 2014 the ESO Council gave the go-ahead for the first construction phase of the telescope.

    Watch, enjoy, learn

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:16 am on December 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “Green Light for E-ELT Construction” 


    European Southern Observatory

    4 December 2014
    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany

    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    At a recent meeting ESO’s main governing body, the Council, gave the green light [1] for the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in two phases. Spending of around one billion euros has been authorised for the first phase, which will cover the construction costs of a fully working telescope with a suite of powerful instruments and first light targeted in ten years time. It will enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the fields of exoplanets, the stellar composition of nearby galaxies and the deep Universe. The largest ESO contract ever, for the telescope dome and main structure, will be placed within the next year.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO E-ELT Interior
    ESO/ E-ELT

    The E-ELT will be a 39-metre aperture optical and infrared telescope sited on Cerro Armazones in the Chilean Atacama Desert, 20 kilometres from ESO’s Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal. It will be the world’s largest “eye on the sky”.

    ESO VLT Interferometer
    ESO VLT Interior
    ESO/VLT

    “The decision taken by Council means that the telescope can now be built, and that major industrial construction work for the E-ELT is now funded and can proceed according to plan. There is already a lot of progress in Chile on the summit of Armazones and the next few years will be very exciting,” said Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General.

    The construction of the E-ELT was approved by ESO’s Council in June 2012 under the condition that contracts with a value larger than 2 million euros could only be awarded once the total cost of the telescope (1083 million euros at 2012 prices) was funded to a 90% level. An exception was granted for the civil works at the site, which started with the groundbreaking ceremony in June 2014 and are making good progress.

    For the time being, 10% of the overall project costs have been shifted to a second phase. With the accession of Poland to ESO, the current funding commitments to the E-ELT have now reached more than 90% of the total cost of the first phase that will bring a fully working E-ELT. Additional commitments from upcoming Member State Brazil are expected in the coming years.

    To prevent the project from slipping, the ESO Council has decided that construction of the first phase of the 39-metre telescope can now proceed. This funded work includes the contract for the telescope’s dome and main structure — the largest in ESO’s history — which will be awarded in late 2015, and leads to the construction of a fully working E-ELT.

    Telescope components that are not yet funded include parts of the adaptive optics system, some of the instrument work, the innermost five rings of segments of the telescope’s main mirror (210 mirror segments) and a spare set of primary mirror segments needed for more efficient telescope operation in the future. The construction of these components, whose postponement does not reduce the extraordinary scientific achievements the telescope will already be able to accomplish at the end of phase one, will be approved as additional funding becomes available, including that expected from the upcoming Member State Brazil.

    For further information consult this FAQ and Messenger article that explains the details.

    “The funds that are now committed will allow the construction of a fully working E-ELT that will be the most powerful of all the extremely large telescope projects currently planned, with superior light collecting area and instrumentation. It will allow the initial characterisation of Earth-mass exoplanets, the study of the resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies as well as ultra-sensitive observations of the deep Universe,” concludes Tim de Zeeuw.
    Notes

    [1] The decision needed ten positive votes (out of fourteen). Eleven positive votes were obtained. Three votes are ad referendum votes, which means that they are to be considered as provisionally positive and are subject to confirmation by the authorities in these three Member States before the next Council meeting. Once they are confirmed, this would mean that the Council decision would be unanimous.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:26 am on July 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESA Euronews: The E-ELT 

    Here is a neat video, about 8 minutes, from Euronews and ESA about ESO’s E-ELT

    Enjoy and learn.


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  • richardmitnick 5:31 pm on June 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “Spain Confirms Participation in the E-ELT” 


    European Southern Observatory

    3 June 2014

    On 3 June 2014, during the 131st meeting of the ESO Council, the Spanish delegation informed the Council that the Spanish Council of Ministers had approved the participation of Spain in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) supplementary programme. The Council very much welcomed the statement of the Spanish delegation and unanimously approved the participation of Spain in the E-ELT programme. The ESO Council and the ESO Executive are delighted that all ESO Member States are now in the E-ELT programme.

    e-elt

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 3:27 pm on October 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESO: “Chilean President Visits Paranal to Announce Transfer of Land for the E-ELT” 


    European Southern Observatory

    two

    At a ceremony held yesterday at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, handed over the recently signed legal documents by which the Chilean government will transfer the land around Cerro Armazones to ESO. Cerro Armazones, a 3060-metre peak 20 kilometres from the site of ESO’s Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal, will be the future home of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

    eelt

    President Piñera was received at the Paranal Observatory by the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, the ESO Representative in Chile, Fernando Comerón and the Deputy Director of La Silla Paranal Observatory, Ueli Weilenmann. The President was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Moreno, as well as representatives of the local Chilean authorities.

    The visit included a tour to the top of Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the most advanced optical telescope in the world.

    During a ceremony at the Paranal Residencia, President Piñera handed the recently signed public deed of transfer of the Cerro Armazones land over to the ESO Director General. The President stressed the importance of protecting the skies in the north of Chile. “We are taking a great step to consolidate Chile as the world’s capital of astronomy. The Extremely Large Telescope on Cerro Armazones will be the largest eye in the world, an eye that will peer from Chilean skies and will plunge into those secrets that the Universe has not yet revealed. Today is a very important day for modern astronomy, and a very important day for Chile, as well.

    The ESO Director General expressed his gratitude to the Government of Chile for this important milestone: “The cooperation between Chile and ESO that began 50 years ago has proved not only to be very fruitful and long-lasting, but also to provide exciting opportunities for the future — for the benefit of Chile, for the ESO Member States, and for the progress of science and technology. The E-ELT is clear proof of that.”

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 5:41 pm on April 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO E-ELT   

    From ESO: “Denmark Confirms Participation in E-ELT” 

    12 April 2013
    Richard Hook
    European Southern Observatory
    Garching, Germany
    Phone: +49 89 3200 6655
    Mobile: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    “Representatives of Denmark have confirmed that their country will participate in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) programme. Twelve ESO Member States have now joined the E-ELT programme.

    den

    Denmark joined the organisation in 1967, as the first new Member State three years after ESO’s foundation. The newly announced investment amounts to 8.5 million euros over the ten-year construction period.

    ‘This decision marks another important push forward for the E-ELT project,’ comments Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General, ‘Denmark is a long-standing member of ESO and with this decision it has taken an important step to keep Danish science and industry at the forefront of astronomy for future decades.’

    Denmark’s participation will be financed by the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, as well as by the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and the Technical University of Denmark. The three universities have agreed to finance the E-ELT additional contributions.

    Denmark originally voted ad referendum for the E-ELT supplementary programme on 12 March 2013, meaning that this decision was subject to confirmation. The Danish Parliament has now approved the participation of Denmark in the E-ELT programme.

    Construction of the E-ELT is expected to start later in 2013, with first light to come early in the next decade.”

    See the full announcement here.

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    THE BASIC TOOLS OF E.S.O.
    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT
    ESO NTT

    NTT – New Technology Telescope


    La Silla

    alma
    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    i2
    The European Extremely Large Telescope
    VISTAVISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)


    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX)

    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.


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  • richardmitnick 7:07 pm on March 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESO E-ELT,   

    From ESO: “Extremely Large Telescope – A Home For The E-ELT” 

    This video is not new; but the E-ELT is worth a good look, and has just had some final approvals. I hope that you enjoy it.

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    THE BASIC TOOLS OF E.S.O.
    i1
    Paranal Platform The VLT
    ESO NTT

    NTT – New Technology Telescope


    La Silla

    alma
    ALMA Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

    i2
    The European Extremely Large Telescope
    VISTAVISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy)


    Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX)

    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.


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