Monday, November 16, 2015

LINC-NIRVANA is introduced to its new home.

LINC-NIRVANA (LN) is a near infrared imaging instrument for the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) designed to offer both multi-conjugate adaptive optics (MCAO) and interferometric beam combination for ultra high spatial resolution. LN is a collaboration between the German and Italian partners. Its Principal Investigator is Tom Herbst (MPIA  - Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg).

LN successfully passed its Preliminary Acceptance tests in Heidelberg (Germany) in May 2015. For the following months, the team has been very busy preparing the instrument for shipping, filling up nine 20ft containers and a BIG crate for the LN bench. Before packing the bench itself, a traverse specially built to eventually install the instrument on the LBT was tested in front of the lab at MPIA. It was LN's first flight! (see image on the right)

Bench crate and containers left MPIA in early September and arrived on schedule on Oct 20 and 21 at the MGIO base camp.

Two of the LN containers (left) and the LN bench crate (right) at the MGIO base camp

The bench crate made its way to the mountain on Oct 22, followed by a first set of four containers. They were stored in the high bay, waiting for the arrival of the LN team, eight people from MPIA who started the long reassembly process on Nov 9. The MGIO staff was instrumental in the swift and safe delivery of these heavy loads to the observatory!

Of the many steps in this reassembly process, checking the fit of the LN bench on the telescope is obviously crucial to the whole project. The bench and its traverse were reunited and they both went for a second flight...

Taking off,hanging from the enclosure crane hook 43 meter above the high bay ground.
Reaching the Upper 3 Level where the bogies of the enclosure ride on their track.
Entering the enclosure access well. 
Entering the hatch. The clearance is very small (a fraction of an inch at the narrowest point) 
Nearly done through the narrows...
Finally free to fly in the enclosure!
LN landing pad on the telescope, in front of LBTI (green structure). The two LUCIs (shiny cylinders) are just behind LBTI. The LN bench with its red traverse can be seen through the telescope structure.   

The bench is now as high as possible above the telescope. The telescope has to be lowered to give enough vertical space for the bench to come to the rear of the enclosure before approaching its landing.
Getting closer... 
With the telescope back to zenith, the bench is lowered down toward its platform.
On the telescope!

A video of the whole operation, compiled by T. Herbst, is available on the LBTO video web page.

For a few days (Nov 16-20), the LN bench will stay on the telescope, moving around during night-time as regular observing takes place with the LBTO facility instruments. During day-time, the various platforms and covers, which will eventually be added permanently to support LN operations, will be fit-tested. 


  1. This extraordinary engineering and design will undoubtedly teach us more about home.

  2. This extraordinary engineering and design will undoubtedly teach us more about home.