Credit: ESO

MICADO enters its Manufacturing Phase

MICADO, the first light camera for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), will soon complete its design phase, and the MICADO consortium partners have started to manufacture various sub-systems of the instrument. A mini-documentary on the MICADO instrument was screened during a live event on ESO’s YouTube channel on Friday, 12 May.

After a long phase of designing and looking at CAD models only, at a recent meeting the MICADO consortium partners were sharing photos of some of the actual hardware that is now being made. “It’s really exciting to see the first pieces arriving in the labs of our partners all over Europe”, says Eckhard Sturm, the MICADO Project Manager. In order to build awareness and anticipation among science communities and public alike, ESO - together with the MICADO consortium - have produced the first of a collection of explainer videos, introduced during a live event on ESO's YouTube channel on Friday, May 12th.

MICADO is the Multi-AO Imaging Camera for Deep Observations. It will equip the 40-m-class Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) with a first light capability for diffraction-limited imaging and long-slit spectroscopy at near-infrared wavelengths. It is being designed and built under the leadership of MPE by a consortium of partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, and Finland together with ESO.

The Astrophysics institute of Göttingen University obtains the responsibility of two subsystems, first the main instrument support structure and mechanical link to the telescope and second, the supply of the instrument with necessary cooling, gases, electricity as well as control and data links through a co-rotating platform; both beside the 8-m tall tower for assembly and maintenance in an earthquake sensitive region.

MICADO will take high-resolution images of the Universe at near-infrared wavelengths. This makes the instrument ideal for identifying exoplanets, unveiling the detailed structure of distant galaxies, or studying individual stars in nearby galaxies. MICADO will also be a unique and powerful tool for exploring environments where gravitational forces and general relativistic effects are extremely strong, such as close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The instrument’s high-tech features – in combination with the ELT's large primary mirror and the correction for the blurring effect of the atmosphere that will be provided both by its own adaptive optics system as well as, later, the MORFEO system - will enable it to go far beyond the capabilities of the best observatories that we have today, including the Hubble Space Telescope. Its sensitivity will be comparable to the James Webb Space Telescope but with six times the resolution.

The ELT and MICADO are set to start operating later this decade.

Credit: MICADO Project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF, research grants 05A11MG1, 05A14MG2, 05A17MG1, 05A20MG2 und 05A23MG as well as PT-DESY