INAOE | Astrophysics | Laboratories | Astronomical Instrumentation

Visible Astronomical Instrumentation Laboratory and of High Energies

This laboratory designs, develops and tests new instruments for the INAOE´s observatories like the Observatorio Astrofísico Guillermo Haro (OAGH) located in Cananea, Sonora and the Gran Telescopio Milimétrico Alfonso Serrano (GTM) or Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT). Members of this lab also participate in external projects of different observatories. Equipment of this laboratory includes oscilloscopes, power sources, phase generators, optic and mechanical design software, vacuum pumps, cryostats (that keep detectors at 77 K and lower temperatures) and optic testing components, among others.

The laboratory develops projects of a different kind but always related to instrumentation and astronomical observation. To this date, the laboratory has developed an acquisition and calibration of photo-multipliers system, based on the VME communication protocol, for HAWC (High Altitude Water Cherenkov) and LAGO (Large Aperture Gamma Ray Burst Observatory) observatories. Both are based on the Cherenkov radiation technique in water and uses photo-multipliers-tubes as detectors. HAWC operates between the 100 GeV – 100 TeV intervals, whilst LAGO operates between 0.5 GeV and 100 GeV. These observatories also do atmospheric cascades simulations for optimizing LAGO detectors.

In the same way, since 2002 the laboratory operates a few weather stations in Sierra Negra to study climatology on site. These data are of particular relevance for the experiments of high energies since the data pressure and temperature data are essential to calibrate observations due to the thickness of the atmosphere modulates the flow of energetic particles that reach the detectors. This laboratory also supports in the calibration of the sensors of such stations that operate under extreme climatic conditions.

In addition, the lab also participates in the MEGARA project that is a multi-object spectrograph for the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) of 10.4 m diameter, located on La Palma in the Canary Islands.

MEGARA is the acronym in Spanish of High-Resolution Multi-Spectrograph for Astronomy in GTC (Multi-Espectrógrafo en GTC de Alta Resolución para Astronomía). It is an instrument with an integral field unit formed by an array of optical fiber that will be located in the focal plane of the telescope. The ends of exit of the fibers form the aperture of the spectrograph with intermediate resolutions of 5600, 10000 and 17000. The spectrograph will have a great efficiency thanks to the use of holographic diffraction grids as scatterer’s elements. It will be a unique worldwide instrument since its performance is unmatchable with current instruments.

The project is a joint effort between Spain and the INAOE, led by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, with the participation of de Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. In México, INAOE is working closely with the Centro de Investigaciones en Óptica. Several European companies also participate, including FRACTAL and AVS among them. INAOE´s responsibility is to review the design of the spectrograph, the detailed design and optomechanics manufacture, the optical components manufacturing and testing (52), and the design and manufacturing of the cryostat.

The infrared CANICA camera, the OAGH operation and the interferometer for Fast Fourier transform (for the GTM site), are just some projects that have been completely or partially developed with the infrastructure of this laboratory. Important equipment has also been tested and developed for the LMT site characterization, which has allowed wider coverage of conditions in Sierra Negra. The lab’s vision is to support the development of millimetric instrumentation.

The equipment of the laboratory includes oscilloscopes, power sources, phase generators, optic and mechanical design software, vacuum pumps, cryostats that keep detectors at 77 K (and lower temperatures) and optic testing components, among others.


Person in charge: Esperanza Carrasco-Licea, Ph.D.

Last Update:
06-09-2016 a las 20:37 by Silvia Hernández Moreno

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