Planning Starts for MOS and HIRES Instruments on the E-ELT

The world’s biggest telescope gets the world’s best instrumentation

23 March 2016

Scientists and engineers have begun mapping out the detailed specifications of two new instruments that will be part of the instrument suite on ESO’s forthcoming European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). MOS (the Multi-Object Spectrograph) and HIRES (the High Resolution Spectrograph) will be world-leading workhorse instruments on what will be the world’s largest telescope.

The contract to begin design studies for MOS was signed on 18 March 2016 by ESO and the CNRS-INSU, the leading institution in the MOSAIC consortium [1]. The instrument will combine high spectral and spatial resolution and will carry out wide-field surveys in the visible and infrared parts of the spectrum. It will allow astronomers to probe some of the deepest mysteries of the Universe: when did the first galaxies form and how did they aggregate into large structures like the Milky Way; how are ordinary matter and dark matter distributed throughout the Universe; and how do planets around other stars form and evolve?

The contract to begin design studies for HIRES was signed on 22 March 2016 by ESO and the HIRES consortium, led by INAF [2]. HIRES is a high-resolution spectrograph, simultaneously operating at visible and infrared wavelengths, that will be used for extremely detailed and accurate studies of individual objects. For example, it will allow astronomers to: study the atmospheres of planets around other stars in a search for the signatures of life; probe the evolution of galaxies; identify the signature of the very first generation of stars in the primordial Universe; and determine whether some of the fundamental constants of physics, which regulate most physical processes in the Universe, actually change with time.

The two consortia are among the largest ever to collaborate in the production of astronomical instruments, illustrating the multinational efforts involved in making these spectrographs.

Instruments of this type feature in the essential toolbox of every modern telescope — these world-leading examples will make the most of the enormous light-gathering power of the E-ELT’s 39-metre main mirror, giving them a performance second to none.


[1] The MOSAIC consortium comprises institutions from 11 countries:

GEPI and LESIA, Observatoire de Paris; Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille; IRAP, Toulouse, ONERA (France); UK Astronomy Technology Centre, STFC; RALSpace, STFC; The University of Oxford; Durham University (UK); IAG, São Paulo; National Astrophysics Laboratory, Itajuba (Brazil); Amsterdam University; NOVA, Leiden Observatory, Universiteit Leiden (Netherlands); Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam and Goettingen University (Germany); Universities of Helsinki, Turku and Oulu (Finland); Universities of Stockholm, Lund and Uppsala (Sweden); Complutense University of Madrid and Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía-CSIC (Spain); INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma (Italy); Vienna University (Austria); Instituto de Astrofisica e Ciências do Espaço - Universidade de Lisboa and Universidade do Porto; CENTRA (Portugal)

[2] The HIRES consortium comprises institutions from 12 countries:
Board of Observational Astronomy, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte; Mauá Institute of Technology (Brazil); Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Centre of Astro Engineering; Universidad de Chile, Department of Astronomy; Universidad de Concepcion, Center of Astronomical Instrumentation; Universidad de Antofagasta, Unidad de Astronomía (Chile); Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen; Institute of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Aarhus (Denmark); Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille; Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble; Laboratoire Lagrange de l’Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur (France); Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics, Potsdam; Institut für Astrophysik, Universität Göttingen; Zentrum für Astronomie Heidelberg, Landessternwarte; Thüringer Landesternwarte Tautenburg; Hamburger Sternwarte, Universität Hamburg (Germany); Istituto Nazionale di AstroFisica (Italy — lead institution); Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Informatics (Poland); Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço - Universidade do Porto and Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal); Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias; Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía-CSIC; Centro de Astrobiología (Spain); Department of Physics and Astronomy, Uppsala University (Sweden); Université de Genève, Département d’Astronomie (Observatoire de Genève); Universität Bern, Physikalisches Institut (Switzerland); Cavendish Laboratory University of Cambridge; Institute of Astronomy University of Cambridge; UK Astronomy Technology Centre; Centre for Advanced Instrumentation - Durham University; Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University) (United Kingdom)


Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591

About the Announcement



Bird's-eye view of the ELT
Bird's-eye view of the ELT