ONERA’s expertise at the core of ESO’s future European Extremely Large Telescope E-ELT

The construction of the E-ELT, a revolutionary 40m class telescope was launched by the European Southern Observatory in December 2014. ONERA is at the core of the achievement of the first adaptive optics instruments for the telescope and its advanced instrumentation.

Artist's impression of the E-ELT on its future site in the Atacama Desert in Chile

In close collaboration with the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, it is developing the adaptive optics systems HARMONI, the high spatial and spectral resolution imaging spectrometer that will equip the E-ELT1 as from its first light. Adaptive optics for these instruments consists of several types of systems that incorporate the latest technological advances, such as turbulence volume tomography using lasers.

For 10 years, using its own funding, ONERA has contributed to major developments in terms of components and designs. The result is the increasing level of technological maturity and performance of the future E-ELT telescope’s adaptive optics.

The cornerstones of this success are the following:

  • the synergy between multiple fundamental research projects and European projects of the 7th Framework Programme
  • instrumental implementation of the SPHERE2 -SAXO3 system, with unrivalled performance for the VLT in Chile

ONERA is thus at the core of the preliminary design and design consolidation activities in preparation for the E-ELT. These projects have consolidated ONERA’s position as a world-class European leader in adaptive optics.

In the longer term, ONERA will work with French astronomical laboratories on the second generation instruments of the E-ELT. The goal: to conduct fundamental research to enable France to maintain its leadership in the field.

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