Paranal News

The section provides the latest telescope and instruments new from theParanal Site. Older news from Paranal prior to 2006 can be found in the Previous News page.

Telescope News


  • UT3
    • 3-13 April: M1/M3 recoating
  • UT4
    • November-December: LGSF maintenance and LPC swap
    • October-December: GRAAL comissioning runs
    • May-September: GALACSI WFM commissioning
    • 21-30 August: M1/M3 re-coating
    • 26 April: realignment of Nasmyth B assembly of Adapter/Rotator, its support structure and GALACSI. 5 tons of equipment and steel moved of ~1.5 mm without dismounting from the telescope fork structure (TTR 99.0045)
    • 18 April: completion of first phase of AOF-GALACSI commissioning
    • 3-7 March: UT4 Naysmith B Drive Motor: removal of magnet protection plates and out-of-service cooling lines
    • 23-27 February: UT4 altitude motor segment replacement (TTR-098.0077)
    • 16 February: completion of first phase of AOF-GRAAL commissioning


  • UT2
    • 7-12 December: M1/M3 recoating
  • UT4
    • 2 December: return to Science operations after DSm integration
    • 24 October: first light with DSM after its integration


  • 20th November: recoating of M1, M3 of UT2 completed
  • 11th September: recoating of M1, M3 of UT4 completed
  • 1st April: The VST is currently out of service between March 29, 2013, and April 2, 2013 due to a multiple damage of cables and cooling lines after an incident caused by the failure of a limit switch. All damaged parts were replaced or repaired.
  • 26th February: The Laser Guide Star system at UT4 has recently been successfully upgraded with a fibre Raman laser (AOF prototype) delivering improved on-sky performances as well as enhanced operational stability and maintenance. Full characterization of the upgraded system will soon be available. This intervention will result in a dramatic increased in the availability of the LGS system for science operations.


Instrument News


  •  January 9: KMOS: Arm 3 is still in simulation and will remain in this state as soon as the instrument can be warmed up and the arm fixed/replaced. Even though the astrometry is indeed re-calibrated, Arm 3 is still showing vignetting on sky with such vignetting being dependent on the arm and rotator position.


  • December 20: X-shooter: After X-shooter was remounted following the last mirror recoating, the readout noise is much higher in the VIS arm. All observations since 2016-12-20 are affected. The readout noise increased by 20-70% depending on the readout mode used, see Unfortunately, the cause has not yet been identified.
  • December 19: UT4 instruments. Following the installation of the deformable secondary mirror, all instruments on UT4 have now been recommissioned and are back in operation.
  • December 5: NACO: The first part of an effort to re-align NACO has been completed. The field stop was re-aligned and the number of AO modes significantly reduced. Performance using the VIS wavefront sensort is nominal; additional work will be done in January 2017 for the IR WFS.
  • November 25: VIMOS: The IFU intervention was completed and we have been observing different specphots to adjust the center of the IFU. The pointing accuracy is now within operational limits given the blind IFU pointing (3 arcsec).
  • November 12: VIMOS: The IFU unit is currently inoperative due to a problem with the IFU shutter. An intervention will take place shortly, most likely before Nov 17.
  • October 9: All UT4 instruments are unavailable due to the installation of the Deformable Secondary Mirrors. Operation will restart in December.
  • October 1: GRAVITY enters operation with the auxiliary telescope array in spectro-imaging mode for the medium and high spectral resolution settings. Gravity can be used in both single and dual field modes (i.e. both on-axis and off-axis fringe-tracking).
  • September 13: SINFONI: The MACAO shutter for the AO unit was replaced successfully.
  • September 5: KMOS: Arm 3 is experiencing again issues: bad precision in positioning as before plus vignetting. These issues are under investigation and Arm 3 is set to simulation.
  • July 11: FLAMES: A new version of FPOSS is available.
  • July 8: KMOS: arm #3 shows problems. It had been set to simulation for a short period (25th July to 4th August)  but is now working again, albeit with a higher uncertainty on the positioning (about 3 pixels). For that reason, the arm to take the telluric standard for spectrograph 1, was changed from #3 to #4.
  • May 18-22: OmegaCAM was out of operations for maintenance.
  • April 2: UVES: An intervention to restore the full performance of the blue arm took place at the period change over to P97. The blue-arm camera is now back to its condition pre-earthquake, i.e., the blue arm delivers a resolving power of ~75,000 for a slit width of 0.4 arcsec.
  • March 31: SINFONI has been upgraded. See the News page for further information.
  • Feburary 27: A new Giraffe readout mode will be availble in Visitor Mode only from Period 97. The mode is a high gain, low noise, slow readout mode that results in higher S/N (about a factor 2) only for faint targets, i.e. at the limit of the instrument sensitivity. The readout time of this slow mode is about 180s, whereas in the standard readout mode this is 45s. The ETC already includes the new readout mode in the Instrument Setup section. More details will be available in the User and Template manuals.
  • February 21: The PSF was fully recovered on February 18th. Image quality and contrat performances are now back to nominal.
  • Feburary 5: VIRCAM: The response in the upper half of chip #16 has decreased after the intervention in Nov 2015. The effect is more pronounced in the Z band, and to a lesser extent in Y, J and the narrowband filters. Before the intervention, the fractional response in the upper half was ~50%-70% in Z. After the intervention it has decreased to ~40%. This issue is under investigation.
  • February 4: SPHERE:  Since January 19th, SPHERE suffers from a degraded image quality (a factor ~0.9 to the H-band Strehl ratio and a factor ~0.5 to the R-band Strehl ratio). The PSF core has a "cross" like shape". The team is working on finding as solution. SPHERE is kept in operations.