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Published by: European Southern Observatory on May 08, 2009
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The Messenger
No. 133 \u2013 September 2008
The Messenger 133 \u2013 September 2008
Progress on the European Extremely Large Telescope
Telescopes and Instrumentation

Jason Spyromilio, Fernando Comer\u00f3n,
Sandro D\u2019Odorico, Markus Kissler-Patig
Roberto Gilmozzi


In December 2006 the ESO Council
gave the go-ahead \ue001or the European
Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT)
three-year Phase B study. The Baseline
Re\ue001erence Design (BRD) was presented
to the ESO committees in 2006 and to
the community at the Marseille meeting
in December 2006. Phase B has been
running \ue001or one and a hal\ue001 years and
a progress report is presented cover-
ing science activities, telescope design,
instrumentation, site selection and op-
erations. The designs are maturing, in
close synergy with industrial contracts,
and the proposal \ue001or E-ELT construction
is expected to be presented to the ESO

Council in June 2010.

The decision by the ESO Council to \ue001und
the Phase B \ue001or the E-ELT at their meet-
ing in December 2006, and the adopted
baseline telescope design, were de-
scribed in Gilmozzi & Spyromilio (2007).
The meeting \u201cTowards the European
Extremely Large Telescope\u201d, which was
held in Marseille immediately preceding
the Council decision, was reported in
the same issue o\ue001 the Messenger (Hook,

2007; Monnet, 2007; Cuby, 2007). Now

one and a hal\ue001 years later there has been much progress as well as evolution o\ue001 the design o\ue001 the telescope.

Science activities

Science activities \ue001or the E-ELT Phase B
have now ramped up to \ue001ull speed. Be-
sides \ue001ocussing on the Design Re\ue001erence
Mission (DRM), a small science o\ue001\ue000ce,
under the guidance o\ue001 and in close col-
laboration with the Science Working
Group, is developing a Design Re\ue001erence
Science Plan (DRSP) and consolidating
the top level requirements \ue001or the ob-
servatory. These activities are supported
by the EU FP7 sponsored programme
which has been \ue001unded (see Gilmozzi et
al., 2008). Details about the science case,
the science working group activities and
the DRM can be \ue001ound athttp://www.eso.

org/sci/\ue001acilities/eelt/science. A brie\ue001 syn-
opsis is given below.

The basic idea o\ue001 the DRM is to be able to predict and monitor the ability o\ue001 the telescope to e\ue001\ue001ectively and e\ue001\ue000ciently

address the challenges o\ue001 the science
cases. For this purpose, a number o\ue001 key
science cases proposed by the Science
Working Group are being simulated in
detail (see also Hook, 2007). For most
science cases, simulations address key
results to be achieved as a \ue001unction tele-
scope and instrument parameters. In
some cases, the simulations will be per-
\ue001ormed end-to-end in order to provide
additional \ue001eedback to the operations


A large amount o\ue001 technical data is re-
quired \ue001or the simulations (such as at-
mospheric behaviour, telescope parame-
ters and instrument models, as well as
simulated adaptive optics point spread
\ue001unctions), and is made available to the
public on the web pages under \u201cTechni-
cal data \ue001or simulations\u201d( ht t p: //w w w.e s o.

data/). A workshop was held in Garching

on 20 and 21 May bringing together
a number o\ue001 the astronomers engaged in
simulations \ue001or the DRM and/or instru-
ment concept studies. The programme
and presentations o\ue001 this workshop
can be \ue001ound athttp://www.eso.org/sci/


While the DRM provides a detailed insight
into the expected per\ue001ormance o\ue001 the
E-ELT, the DRSP is intended to explore
the parameter space to be covered
by the telescope and instruments. The
DRSP will be a large collection o\ue001 cases
directly provided by the ESO commu-
nity, and refecting their interests. A web
questionnaire is being made available
\ue001rom September 2008 on. This collection
o\ue001 cases will be analysed and will be
used as one o\ue001 the drivers \ue001or the tele-
scope modes and instrument implemen-
tation plans.

Beyond the work on the science case,
the E-ELT science o\ue001\ue000ce is currently con-
solidating the top level requirements
\ue001or the observatory. Telescope and instru-
ment requirements are being reviewed
and justi\ue000ed in order to provide the nec-

essary background \ue001or the decisions
on the trade-o\ue001\ue001s to be made during the
detailed design work on the telescope.

A number o\ue001 workshops will be held in
the near \ue001uture to discuss the E-ELT sci-
ence cases. In September, during the
JENAM meeting in Vienna, there will be a
major workshop \u201cScience with the E-ELT\u201d
(seeht t p: //w w w.e s o.o r g /s c i /\ue001 a c i l i t i e s /e e l t /

science/meetings/jenam08/). Two work-

shops are being prepared \ue001or next year.
The \ue000rst, in March 2009, is organised
together with the ALMA, GMT and TMT
projects (see announcement on page 65).
The aim is to explore the synergies be-
tween ALMA and the up-coming giant
optical and near-in\ue001rared telescopes. The
second workshop (May 2009) will be
dedicated to the DRM and DRSP work in
the \ue001rame o\ue001 the FP7 activities.

Telescope design

The design activities undertaken by in-
dustry as part o\ue001 the Phase B, and their
impact o\ue001 the current version o\ue001 the BRD,
are described in the \ue001ollowing sections.
One signi\ue000cant evolution o\ue001 the \ue000ve-mirror
design (see Gilmozzi & Spyromilio, 2007)
has been the movement o\ue001 the tertiary
mirror \ue001rom below the primary mirror to
the same level. This change was made to

improve the ventilation o\ue001 the tertiary mir- ror. As a by-product the secondary mirror has become slightly smaller in diameter

(now 6 m rather than 6.2 m). The adaptive

quaternary mirror has increased slightly
in diameter, thereby marginally improving
its per\ue001ormance.

Industrial activities
Immediately a\ue001ter the approval by the
ESO Council, a set o\ue001 contracts were
tendered to validate the BRD \ue001or the tele-

scope and to explore the expertise in
industry regarding the construction o\ue001
such massive structures. The general
policy has been to let two contracts to
study a speci\ue000c subsystem o\ue001 the tele-
scope, thus allowing di\ue001\ue001erent options to
be explored whenever possible.

By May 2007 two contracts had been
placed \ue001or the validation o\ue001 the telescope
main structure design as proposed by

The Messenger 133 \u2013 September 2008

ESO. The contracts included the study o\ue001
the industrialisation o\ue001 the concept, cost
estimates and construction schedules.
We encouraged the suppliers to consider
variations on the design. Both these de-

sign contracts have now been concluded.
The contractors considered variants on
the ESO baseline and proposed alterna-
tives that appear to per\ue001orm better and
are estimated to be cheaper to manu\ue001ac-
ture. The ESO design team has adopted
these ideas and the new baseline tele-
scope main structure appears signi\ue000cant-
ly di\ue001\ue001erent to the original concept (see
Gilmozzi & Spyromilio, 2007). Instead o\ue001
\ue001our cradles supporting the primary mir-
ror, only two are now seen as necessary
to provide the required sti\ue001\ue001ness. By re-
moving a signi\ue000cant \ue001raction o\ue001 the mass
\ue001rom below the telescope, the mount bal-
ances naturally, alleviating the necessity
o\ue001 signi\ue000cant additional mass in the upper
parts o\ue001 the telescope (see Figure 1). This
change has increased the overall per\ue001orm-
ance o\ue001 the telescope and the \ue000rst eigen-
\ue001requency o\ue001 the structure is now around
2.6 Hz. The reduction in moving mass is
also an overall cost saver, both in quantity
o\ue001 steel and in all the associated hard-


The design \ue001or the telescope mount has
been extensively analysed using Finite
Element Models and \ue001airly sophisticated
control simulations (see Figure 2). Al-
though the role o\ue001 the mount may be sim-
pli\ue000ed to \u201cKeep the primary pointing at
the right place on the sky, and the other

mirrors at each other (sequentially)\u201d, not

only is this a non-trivial problem but the
optimisation o\ue001 the design can lead to
signi\ue000cant cost savings in other subsys-
tems. For example, the range o\ue001 the actu-
ators \ue001or the primary mirror is directly

related to the extent to which the cell will de\ue001orm as the telescope is inclined \ue001rom the zenith towards the horizon.

Around the same time as the call \ue001or con-
tracts \ue001or the telescope main structure,
two contracts were placed \ue001or a prelimi-
nary design o\ue001 the telescope dome. The
companies that provided the best bids in

response to the ESO tenders were new to
telescope enclosure design, but brought

their expertise in the design and construc-
tion o\ue001 enormous buildings, and in par-
ticular sports stadia, to bear. The E-ELT
dome will be o\ue001 similar size to that o\ue001

Figure 2 (below).A

Finite Element Model o\ue001
the E-ELT main struc-
ture is shown. The di\ue001\ue001er-
ent coloured compo-
nents encode di\ue001\ue001erent
cross sections o\ue001 the
structural elements.

Figure 1 (above).A CA D

rendering o\ue001 the E-ELT
Baseline Re\ue001erence
Design version 2 \ue001or the
telescope and mount.

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