AAS 197, January 2001
Session 15. Optical and IR: Small Telescopes, Instrumentation and Processing
Display, Monday, January 8, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[15.11] PRIMO: A Wide Field Prime Focus Infrared Mosaic Camera

D. Fischer (Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.), J. Bally, J. Green, J. Morse (CASA, CU-Boulder), R. Probst, R. Green, R. Joyce, M. Liang (NOAO), R. Arentz, H. Reitsema, J. Marriott (Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

We describe a proposal for a major new facility infrared camera for the NOAO 4-m telescopes. With a half-degree field of view at prime focus, a refractive collimator-camera design, and a 1-2.5 um range, PRIMO will enable deep, wide-field infrared surveys.

The need for surveys which bridge the five-magnitude gap between 2MASS and 8-10 m spectroscopic sensitivity is well established. PRIMO will enable high-latitude broadband surveys to trace the luminosity and clustering evolution of galaxies, investigations into the composition and history of young stellar populations throughout the total volume of star-forming complexes, narrow-band imaging surveys of star forming regions, and of nebulae formed in late stellar evolutionary stages.

The NOAO 4-m telescopes are well suited to this role, and PRIMO will also empower US investment in Gemini and other new generation very large telescopes. By leveraging this instrument with the previous NSF investment in these telescopes, we will provide the US community with a survey facility comparable to the UK VISTA project at a fraction of the latter's cost.

This project will be carried out through teaming of an accomplished university group, CU-Boulder, a national center, NOAO, and an aerospace industry partner, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Our approach is a new model for developing major ground-based astronomical instruments. The instrument concept has been developed and costed, and we meet our performance goals with a straightforward, low-risk design. The project schedule is aggressive: two years from start of funding to first light.

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