AESOP arrives in Germany, ready to be assembled for use on 4MOST

AESOP. Credit: Rebecca Brown/AAO-Macquarie.

After many years of design and analysis, manufacturing and integration, the Australian-European Southern Observatory Positioner (AESOP) finally arrived in Germany, at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP).

Designed and built by Astralis-AAO (based at Macquarie University), AESOP is one of the core components of the four-metre Multi-Object Spectroscopic Telescope (4MOST), currently under construction for the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA). VISTA is part of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), located in Chile, with the complete 4MOST instrument scheduled to be sent to its final destination in May of 2023.

Once in place, AESOP’s Echidna tilting spine technology will simultaneously position 2,448 optical fibres at the focal surface of ESO’s VISTA telescope. Using AESOP, the 4MOST spectroscopic survey instrument will observe the southern sky for 15 years, obtaining spectra for millions of targets. AESOP is able to position all of its fibres on 10-micron targets in less than 1 minute.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented Astralis-AAO staff from completing assembly of AESOP on site in Germany. They will, however, now be able to remotely supervise staff from the European 4MOST partners consortium, as the instrument is unpacked and delicately put together.

Astralis-AAO at Macquarie University is one part of the Astralis Instrumentation Consortium (Astralis) – a combined team of astronomy experts across three major Australian universities: Macquarie University, the Australian National University and the University of Sydney. Astralis receives funding via AAL (the fourth member of the Consortium) under the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Program.

The AESOP project was made possible by the Australian Government’s 10-year Strategic Partnership with ESO. AAL supports the Australian Government in this partnership by managing domestic arrangements and funding for Astralis.

For more information about the arrival of AESOP in Germany, please see this link.

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