Previous abstract Next abstract
Session 41 - Visible & UV Telescopes.
Display session, Thursday, January 08
The 4m-aperture SOAR telescope is currently in advanced conceptual design at the project office (NOAO, Tucson.) It will enter operation within 5 years, adjacent to Gemini-South atop Cerro Pachon. Built on a tight budget ($23M 1997), it is nonetheless being optimized to deliver high-quality images over a 15-arcmin diameter field of view. An optical corrector and ADC will be provided for operation shortward of \lambda 1 \mum. The telescope is not optimized for thermal-IR. Maximum telescope+enclosure image degradation is 0\farcs 18 FWHM, corresponding to delivered images of <0\farcs 3 FWHM longward of \lambda 0.8 \mum in top-quartile seeing. One Nasmyth focus will be compatible with Gemini instruments, the other will support up to three less massive user instruments. The total Nasmyth instrument payload is 4400 kg. Bent Cassegrain ports will also be available. The telescope will incorporate active optics, a thin primary mirror for optimal thermal control, facility wavefront sensors, automatic focus control, and a secondary or tertiary mirror capable of high-speed tip/tilt/fast-focus motions to stabilize images. Considerable effort will be devoted to the control of scattered light using advanced modeling codes. The instruments will be designed by partner institutions (CNPQ Brazil, Michigan State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NOAO) to maintain telescope image quality for optical and near-IR imaging with tunable filters and imaging spectrophotometry at the seeing limit. A currently unfunded upgrade in early operations will provide adaptive optics (AO) capability, ideally with an adaptive secondary mirror and coaxial laser launch telescope. With AO, top-quartile images will be <0\farcs 2 (50% encircled energy) over the range \lambda\lambda 0.6 -- 2 \mum. 30% of the observing queue will be available to US astronomers via the NOAO allocation.
Program listing for Thursday