Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument Passes Major Milestone
Focal Plane Testing
Parker Fagrelius, a DESI Collaboration member and NOIRLab scientist, tests the wedge-shaped petals for DESI’s focal plane in a clean room at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in April 2019. Ten petals, each containing 500 robotic positioners that are used to gather light from targeted galaxies, form the complete focal plane. The focal plane is now installed on the Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, near Tucson, Arizona.
Credit: Marilyn Sargent/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) on the Nicholas U.
A view of the interior of the Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory Kitt Peak National Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Tucson, Arizona.
Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) on the Nicholas U. Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, has passed a major milestone en route to mapping tens of millions of galaxies in its quest to understand the nature of dark energy and its role in the expansion history of the Universe.
DESI was designed and built by an international collaboration of about 500 researchers at 75 institutions in 13 nations. DESI can observe up to 5000 galaxies at a time, using optical fibers that feed the light from each galaxy into an array of spectrographs. There the light is spread into individual rainbows which will enable the team to create a three-dimensional map of the Universe.
When it became clear in March that KPNO would be closed owing to COVID-19, the team moved quickly to obtain preliminary data, which enabled them to reach its final approval milestone: on 8 May 2020 the DESI project received final official approval to proceed from a federal Advisory Board. Planning is now under way for a limited restart of science operations at KPNO; the site remains closed at this time.
NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), the US center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the international Gemini Observatory (a facility of NSF, NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentina, and KASI–Republic of Korea), Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawai‘’i, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O’odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.
- Press release from Berkeley Labs
- DESI’s 5000 Eyes Open as Kitt Peak Telescope Prepares to Map Space and Time
DESI is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science; the U.S. National Science Foundation, Division of Astronomical Sciences under contract to the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory; the Science and Technologies Facilities Council of the United Kingdom; the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; the Heising-Simons Foundation; the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA); the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico; the Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities of Spain; and DESI member institutions. The DESI scientists are honored to be permitted to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak), a mountain with particular significance to the Tohono O’odham Nation. View the full list of DESI collaborating institutions, and learn more about DESI here: www.desi.lbl.gov.
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The National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab, the U.S. center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates multiple research facilities including Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. The Laboratory is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences.
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The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation, patient care and scientific research. The Foundation’s Science Program aims to make a significant impact on the development of provocative, transformative scientific research, and increase knowledge in emerging fields.
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