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UVES Quality Control

general UVES


The main goals of ESO data quality control (QC) are:

  • to know the instrument status (health checks)
  • to monitor it over time (trending)
  • to deliver data of known and defined quality (certification).

The QC process uses data processing pipelines. These support all VLT/VLTI instruments and all major modes. More ...

The QC process is fed by the data transfer from Paranal into the archive which takes place within minutes. The calibration data are then processed incrementally at ESO Headquarters (typically once per hour). The quality information is extracted into QC1 parameters. The most important parameters are displayed graphically on the Health Check monitor. Also, their values are scored against configured thresholds, to discover anomalies. The quality scores are also displayed graphically and are evaluated both by the QC scientists and the Paranal staff astronomers.

The complete trending history of each VLT instrument is also maintained on the Health Check monitor.


The QC0 process checks that

  • raw data have a reasonable exposure level
  • comply formally with the ESO standards
  • calibration data are complete
  • user-defined observational constraints have been respected during the observation

Typically the QC0 checks are done on raw data. QC0 is entirely done by Paranal staff astronomers.


Quality Control Level 1 consists of quality checks on pipeline-processed data. Quality is measured by numbers, the QC1 parameters. Main goals of the QC1 process are

  • to monitor instrument stability and performance
  • to monitor the atmosphere
  • to monitor pipeline performance.

The checks are done on calibration data. Scientific usefulness cannot be assessed with this process.

The QC1 parameters are used

  • to assess the quality of master calibration files (e.g. noise properties, gradients),
  • to compare with expected values (e.g. gain value),
  • to assess the performance of the instrument (e.g. throughput from photometric zeropoints),
  • to monitor efficiency of master creation process (e.g. reduction of random noise).

The result of the QC1 process is used to

  • decide whether master creation data are certified or rejected,
  • assess the quality of the reduction process.
All master calibration data created by QC Garching are quality-checked.

The QC1 parameters are archived. They are directly available for studies through the QC1 database interface (although in many cases the trending pages may be more interesting, see below).


Trending is monitoring QC1 parameters over time (e.g. effective resolution as function of time). A core task of QC Garching is to create trending pages (also called Health Check monitor) which are used to monitor the instrument evolution and performance.

The most recent values of important QC1 parameters are scored against configured thresholds, to discover anomalies. The quality scores are also displayed graphically and are evaluated both by the QC scientists and the Paranal staff astronomers.


The UVES HC plots are available on the HC home page.

More documentation about UVES trending plots is accessible here.

A tool for creating dynamic trending plots and to perform research on instrument evolution is the QC1 plotter (UVES | All instruments).



Below you find a list of the main interventions or issues on UVES or FLAMES/UVES (MOS):

  • 2012-09-09: broken fiber (in all Plate 2 MOS settings 8, 7+1 ....). Observations with MOS Plate2 settings have only 7 fibers.
  • 2014-01 : shutter intervention to increase blue arm resolution.
  • 2014-01-25 adjustment of CD1 and CD2.
  • 2014-07-24: UVES intervention: ThAR (wavelenght calib) lamp adjusted , resolution of the CHIPU improved.
  • 2015-03-18: red shutter intervention.
  • 2015-10-17 to 2015-10-30 : maintenance/intervention.
  • 2015-11-27: EQ, blue arm degraded (comma), observations with slit < 1 arcs postponed.
  • 2016-04-03: first intervention to restore resolution of blue arm after the EQ (2015-11-27).
  • 2016-04-23: new calib lamp (replacing by ThAR/Photron).
  • 2017-02-06: intervention blue arm (comma, refocus) resol back to 84 (instead of 70).
  • 2017-10-05: intervention on blue arm to bring the resolution back to the value at the beginning of operations (up to 8% increase).