DCT Status, April 22, 2013
We obtained first light images with Lowell's Discovery Channel Telescope in mid-2012, in time for unveiling at our First Light Gala on July 21, 2012. Over 700 people attended the celebration, which featured a keynote address by Neil Armstrong, making what would be his last public appearance. We were honored by his presence at this turning point in Lowell's history. See our First Light Gala page for photographs and desktop versions of the first light images.
The Large Monolithic Imager (LMI), funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is the DCT's workhorse instrument, featuring a 36 megapixel CCD with a field of view of nearly 13 arc minutes. It is mounted on the back of the instrument cube, at the straight-through position, with other instruments soon to be arrayed around the side ports. Lowell astronomer and instrument Principal Investigator Philip Massey has assembled gallery of commissioning images for you to enjoy and download. These demonstrate the outstanding optical quality of the telescope and apart from the color-compositing, they are completely unretouched.
With the commissioning phase of the DCT project now proceeding rapidly, we have begun to offer the first science observing nights to Lowell staff and to astronomers from our partner institutions (Boston University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Toledo). Although most nights are still dedicated to commissioning and engineering, we used the DCT on about 10 nights in Q1 2013 and are on track for aboout 15 nights in Q2 and 20 in Q3 for science observing. It is exciting to see our newest eye on the heavens doing so well what it was built to do, and we have obtained image quality as good as 0.6 seconds of arc. Stay tuned as the exciting results begin to accumulate!
An infrared image of the star forming region S106 taken with the Subaru telescope. RIMAS will explore the infrared universe with the DCT. (Subaru 8.3-m Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)
The Rapid infrared IMAger Spectrometer (RIMAS)
This infrared instrument combines imaging and spectroscopic capabilities in one compact setup that will be mounted on one of the ports of the DCT instrument cube.
RIMAS will be able to image objects in the infrared part of the spectrum, just as LMI does in the optical, though with a smaller field of view. The spectroscopic capabilities will include both a very low resolution mode as well as a higher resolution mode, complementing the capabilities of NIHTS and allowing researchers to conduct a diverse set of projects using it.
The instrument is being built by the Goddard Space Flight Center in partnership with the Astronomy Department of the University of Maryland at College Park. UMD and GSFC have joined Lowell as partners in the DCT, and RIMAS is expected to be commissioned later in 2012.
Full technical details for RIMAS are available here.