The NOVA-ASTRON Optical-Infrared Instrumentation group in The Netherlands is a national institute that develops instrumentation on world-class optical telescopes to serve the Dutch astronomical community. Currently MATISSE (Multi-AperTure Mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment) is being built. NOVA-ASTRON and the Leiden Observatory is responsible for production of MATISSE’s cold optics.
MATISSE is designed to combine the beams of the four telescopes of the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Chile. The four beams can be combined inteferometrically, synthesizing a gigantic 200-m telescope. MATISSE will work in two spectral bands around 2.8-5um and 8-13um. No other instruments in the world will offer the same capabilities, placing the VLTI at the forefront of interferometry in these wavelength bands with unprecedented sharpness.
MATISSE enables the study of wavelength-dependent characteristics of gas and dust grains and their complex geometries. This will support the study of formation and evolution of the planetary systems, the Active Galactic Nuclei, and the high-contrast environments of evolved stars.
NOVA-ASTRON’s work package, The Cold Optical Bench, is the most complex part of MATISSE, with ~200 optical components, located into two cryostats of roughly 700x700x400mm size, and over 8x20m(!) optical path length. The cramped envelope required a specific design approach with early interaction between the different design disciplines.
Precision Optical is providing precision polished infrared substrates for the cryogenic optical instrumentation involved in Matisse. Precision Optical is proud to be part of such a program, and we are looking forward to its success.