On September 26th 2014 the European Southern Observatory (ESO) signed a contract with an international consortium, involving the Cavendish Laboratory, to build MOONS, a unique new instrument for the Very Large Telescope located in Chile. MOONS is a multi-object near-infrared and optical spectrometer capable of obtaining the spectra of one thousand astronomical objects simultaneously. MOONS will be able to tackle some of the most difficult and demanding astronomical questions such as probing the structure of the Milky Way and tracing how stars, galaxies and black holes form and evolve. During its ten-year design lifetime, MOONS is expected to observe of order ten million objects.
The Cavendish Laboratory will design, manufacture and assemble some of the key optical elements of the spectrometer. The Cavendish Laboratory also hosts Professor Roberto Maiolino, the Project Scientist of MOONS, who is contributing to the definition of the instrument design and requirements. The Cavendish Laboratory will also contribute to the detailed planning of the observations, to data analysis and to the scientific exploitation of these data.
Additional information (STFC press release) can be found at: