eso9814 — Organisation Release
Optical Alignment Tests Start at the VLT UT1
27 April 1998
Following the successful installation of the 8.2-m Zerodur main mirror at the first of the four Unit Telescopes (UT1) of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) on April 16, work now continues on the optical alignment of the complex system.
This has included the integration of the 1.1-m Beryllium secondary mirror (M2) to the M2 Unit at the top of the telescope tube on April 19. The M2 Unit is a complex electro-mechanical assembly that ensures the focussing of the telescope, the fast tracking and the chopping needed for infrared observaitons.
Moreover, the delicate work to optimize the active supports on which the M1 rests in its cell has also begun, together with the tuning of the Telescope Control System. This will guarantee that the entire active optics of the VLT UT1 performs correctly at the moment of First Light.
As reported before, the M1 mirror has not yet been aluminized. This is supposed to happen in mid-May, once the alignment procedures are ready.
If no significant technical problems occur, the first "scientific images" will be obtained with the UT1 during the night of May 25 - 26, 1998 (Chilean time). It would then be possible to present the first scientific images less than 24 hours later, in the morning of May 27, at Press Conferences in the ESO members countries and elsewhere that are part of the First Light Event.
More information about the Very Large Telescope (VLT) project is available on the ESO Web.