Research Group - Instrumentation
PI: Alexandre Cabral
The IA Instrumentation team has a long background in optical instrumentation for astronomy and space, with a long track record in projects with the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) and the European Space Agency (ESA). The key competences are in optics design, optical metrology, photonics, and data pipeline processing. The team has been working in the full process of instrument development, from concept to actual installation and commissioning. This long-term strategy comprises a strong participation in key ESO and ESA instruments/missions.
The development of new instrumentation is also very important to secure privileged access to existing and future facilities of ESO and ESA. The participation of IA in large observation Surveys is also important to give direct access to the available data in first hand. Both the involvement in instruments or large Surveys contributes to the long-term development of Astronomy in Portugal.
Space sciences are served by space platforms and ground infrastructures alike. Platforms, infrastructures and instruments rely upon a plethora of technologies. Instruments, which are more closely related to the astronomy agenda, are complex and integrated technological systems and do comprise their own data reduction subsystems, strongly dependent on instrument hardware and technology - this complete integration is the new instrumentation paradigm of the 21st century, fully endorsed by IA.
The instrumentation team address challenges associated with technology development for instrumentation and space and ground systems, in the context of international consortia, ESO and ESA, national space agencies and areas of the space program of the EU Horizon 2030. Participation is produced at several development phases, from scientific concepts and architecture to integration, testing, and delivery, and also including the development of data pipelines. Software for data reduction is now inseparable from instrument / mission / infrastructure. ESO recent and upcoming instrumentation considers the pipeline as a part of the instrument, to be developed in parallel. The pipeline will therefore perform the low-level manipulations common for all the uses of the instrument and is completely defined by its hardware properties.
In the last few years, we have been very successful in participating in the definition of the scientific case of several missions and infrastructures from the very beginning, therefore creating simultaneously a niche for science and a niche for technology or instrument development.