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ELT METIS Instrument Passes Design Milestone

5 Jun 2020, 12:18 UTC
ELT METIS Instrument Passes Design Milestone

METIS, the powerful imager and spectrograph for the European Southern Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), has passed its Preliminary Design Review.
METIS, short for Mid-infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph, will make full use of the giant main mirror of the telescope to study a wide range of science topics, from objects in our Solar System to distant active galaxies. In particular, METIS is expected to make significant contributions to the field of exoplanets and planet formation. The instrument will be able to study the temperature, weather, and seasonal changes of the atmospheres of many giant exoplanets. Furthermore, METIS has the potential to directly detect terrestrial exoplanets around the nearest stars and, in favourable cases, investigate their atmospheric composition.

Artist depiction of the METIS instrument set to be used with the Extremely Large Telescope upon completion.  Credit: ESO

The ELT will be the largest optical to mid-infrared telescope on Earth when it starts operations towards the middle of this decade. With its 39-metre primary mirror and advanced adaptive optics systems, it will have six times the resolution of the James Webb Space Telescope. METIS will take full advantage of this remarkable telescope and its adaptive optics to probe the astronomical targets with revolutionary precision.

This artist’s rendering shows the Extremely Large Telescope in operation on Cerro Armazones in northern Chile. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

METIS is constructed by the METIS consortium which consists of 13 partner organisations and is led by the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) represented by the University of Leiden. ETH Zurich in collaboration with PlanetS is one of the partners and has two leading roles in this project and a major hardware contribution: Prof. Sascha Quanz is leading the METIS Science Team and Dr. Adrian Glauser is leading the METIS Systems Team that develops the METIS instrument. ETH Zurich is further responsible for developing and providing the METIS cryostat. More details can be found on the project webpage.

Now that the instrument has passed this Preliminary Design Review, the METIS consortium will continue to develop its design in further detail before construction on the instrument starts.

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