2018 February: SPIRou comes back to life

The whole instrument is integrated at CFHT

Following the delivery of all 13 SPIRou crates at CFHT on the Maunakea summit (the last load arriving on Jan 30), integration of the various SPIRou subsystems began straight away. With the extremely helpful and dedicated contribution of the CFHT team, the SPIRou teams from IRAP / OMP and NRC-H present on site started working in parallel on the main instrument modules in order to catch up on the travel delays and ensure a fast and efficient path to a working system. The SPIRou cryostat was assembled and ready for a first successful vacuum test on Feb 3, whereas the Cassegrain unit and attendant control electronics were put together and checked for nominal behavior.

2018/02 – Fine tuning the location and orientation of the pupil slicer on the SPIRou bench (©S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)

Optical alignement of the spectrograph and Cassegrain unit followed from Feb 5 to Feb 15, with the polarimeter now equipped with new optics offering improved performances. Alignement procedures devised at IRAP / OMP proved quite useful and efficient at bringing back all spectrograph optics at their optimal positions, despite the tough working conditions at an altitude of 4200 m. Last but not least, the OHP team arrived on Feb 12 to integrate the SPIRou calibration unit, completing the set of sophisticated equipment that SPIRou needs to carry out its ambitious science programmes.

The first cryogenic cycle is currently planned to start on Feb 17 in a configuration identical to that used at IRAP / OMP, featuring in particular a 4M-pixel engineering H2RG detector. More tests with SPIRou are planned in the forthcoming weeks to demonstrate that the performances of the reassembled instrument are nominal. Following this verification step, SPIRou will be equipped with its brand new 16M-pixel science H4RG detector, currently being integrated on its focal plane array by the SPIRou team at Université de Montréal and to be delivered at CFHT by mid March. Stay tuned for the SPIRou first light on sky, expected to occur soon afterwards!

Special thanks to the whole CFHT team for their friendly welcome and implication throughout the integration steps, in particular Greg Barrick, Tom Benedict, Kevin Ho, Marc Baril, Greg Green and Tom Vermeulen.

2018/02 – Opening the SPIRou vessel following the first vacuum test #2 (© S.Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Adjusting the multi-layer insulation inside the SPIRou vessel (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Installing the off-axis parabolic collimator on the SPIRou bench (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Fine tuning the position of the SPIRou off-axis parabolic collimator (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Clamping the three SPIRou octagonal fibers of the pupil slicer on the ferrule separating the cold and warm sections of the vessel (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Focusing the SPIRou spectrograph by adjusting the pupil slicer and the fold mirror versus the off-axis parabola (© S. Chastanet -CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Installing the triple-prism cross-disperser on the SPIRou optical bench (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Installing the R2 echelle grating on the SPIRou optical bench (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Overview of the SPIRou optical bench prior to the installation of the dioptric camera with the ESPaDOnS spectrograph in the background (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Installing the dioptric camera on the SPIRou optical bench (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Installing the engineering H2RG detector at the focal plane of the SPIRou dioptric camera (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Adjusting the rails of the SPIRou cryogenic vessel (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Integrating and adjusting the SPIRou Calibration unit at CFHT (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Inner view of the upper Cassegrain unit (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Testing the hollow cathod lamps of the SPIRou Calibration unit (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – The SPIRou Cassegrain unit following reassembly at CFHT (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)
2018/02 – Leaving the CFH Telescope after a tough working day at 4200 m (© S. Chastanet – CNRS/OMP)

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