Multi-AO Imaging Camera for Deep Observations

Multi-AO Imaging Camera for Deep Observations

MICADO is the Multi-AO Imaging Camera for Deep Observations. It will equip the 40-m class  Extremely Large Telescope with a first light capability for diffraction limited imaging and long-slit spectroscopy at near-infrared wavelengths. It is being designed and built under the leadership of MPE by a consortium of partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, and Finland together with ESO.

The instrument will work with a multi-conjugate laser guide star adaptive optics system (MCAO, developed by the  MAORY consortium) as well as a single-conjugate natural guide star adaptive optics system (SCAO, developed jointly by the MICADO and MAORY consortia). If required for an initial phase, MICADO will be able to operate with just the SCAO system in a ‘stand-alone’ mode.

With a point-source sensitivity that is comparable to JWST and a resolution about a factor 6 better, MICADO has the potential to address a large number of science topics that span the key elements of modern astrophysics. The science drivers focus on several main themes: the dynamics of dense stellar systems, black holes in galaxies and the centre of the Milky Way, the star formation history of galaxies through resolved stellar populations, the formation and evolution of galaxies in the early universe, planets and planet formation, and the solar system. To address these, MICADO will exploit its key capabilities of sensitivity and resolution, which are in turn leveraged by its observing modes of imaging (covering a 50” field of view at 0.8 – 2.4 µm), astrometry (50 µas precision for brighter sources), coronagraphy (using focal and pupil plane coronagraphs), and slit spectroscopy (covering 1.45 – 2.46 µm and 0.84 – 1.48 µm at R ~ 20000).

MICADO in its stand-alone configuration next to the Pre-Focal Station on the Nasmyth Platform. Credit: MICADO Consortium
View inside the cryostat showing the collimator mirrors (blue, top), the zoom optics for the high resolution imaging mode (green), the camera mirrors (blue, bottom), and the detector array (red). Credit: MICADO Consortium

Major Sub-systems

  • Calibration Assembly enables calibration of the science instrument, by creating suitable sources in a focal plane matching that of the ELT.
  • Relay Optics transfer the ELT focal plane into the instrument. These will be used only in the stand-alone mode. With MAORY, they will be replaced by a single fold mirror.
  • NGS WFS module contains natural guide star wavefront sensors for the adaptive optics systems, in particular for the SCAO system.
  • De-rotator rotates the entire cryostat, as well as the NGS WFS module, to match the orientation of the sky as seen by the instrument.
  • Cryostat is the core of MICADO, containing the cold optics instrument.
  • Support Structure keeps the various components at their necessary locations.
  • Co-rotating platform and cable-wrap allow much of the electronics to co-rotate with the instrument, keeping cable lengths short; the cable-wrap enables access external electronics and service supplies.
  • Electronics facilitate control and monitoring signals, as well as providing power for all devices.
  • Control Software supports observation preparation and execution, coordinating operation of the instrument with the telescope and adaptive optics systems.
  • Pipeline Software performs data processing for a quick-look at the observatory, for the archive and trending analyses, and for the user back home. Includes a data simulator  SimCADO.

Major Milestones

October 2015: Kick-off

November 2018: Preliminary Design Review

Mid 2021: Final Design Review

Mid 2025: Preliminary Acceptance Europe

2026: Provisional Acceptance Chile with SCAO

2027: Provisional Acceptance Chile with MCAO

2029: Final Acceptance


MPE: Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics), Garching

MPIA: Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy), Heidelberg

USM: Universitäts-Sternwarte München (University Observatory Munich)

IAG: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Stiftung Öffentlichen Rechts, ausführendes Institut: Institut für Astrophysik (University of Göttingen Public Law Foundation, executing institute: Institute for Astrophysics)

NOVA: Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor de Astronomie (Netherlands Research School for Astronomy). NOVA is a federation of several astronomical institutes. Specific contributions to MICADO come from the University of Groningen, the University of Leiden, and the NOVA optical/infrared instrumentation group based at ASTRON in Dwingeloo.

CNRS/INSU: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers in France ("National Center of Scientific Research") represented by LESIA, GEPI and IPAG

A*: An Austrian partnership collectively represented by the University of Vienna (The A* partnership comprises the University of Vienna, the University of Innsbruck, the University Graz, the University of Linz and RICAM Linz (Austrian Academy of Sciences). Contributions to MICADO come from Vienna, Innsbruck and Linz.)

INAF: Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (National Institute for Astrophysics) in Italy, represented by the Observatory of Padova

FINCA: Suomen ESO-keskus (Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO), Turku

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