First Instruments for E-ELT Approved

10 July 2015

Following the recommendations of the ESO Finance Committee (FC) and Scientific Technical Committee (STC), Council authorised the Director General to sign the contracts for the first set of instruments for the E-ELT. These huge and innovative tools to analyse the light collected by the giant telescope will allow the E-ELT to address a wide range of astronomical questions soon after its completion. The choices are based on extensive input from the astronomical communities in ESO’s Member States.

This instrumentation package comprises a near-infrared imager with spectroscopic capability (MICADO), a multi-conjugate adaptive optics unit (MAORY), which will feed MICADO (and possibly additional future instruments); an integral field spectrograph (HARMONI), along with development of its laser tomography adaptive optics system to preliminary design review level; and a mid-infrared imager and spectrometer (METIS).

MICADO, coupled with MAORY, will allow the full resolution of the telescope to be brought to bear on many current areas of research. A key driver for the instrument design is astrometric accuracy. Such detailed measurements of the positions of objects will allow, amongst other projects, the orbits of stars around the black hole at the centre of our galaxy to be tracked with unprecedented precision.

HARMONI will make 3D observations of astronomical objects on scales ranging from planetary orbits to entire galaxies. One example of the potential of such an instrument is that HARMONI will enable us to understand the formation and evolution of galaxies from the earliest times in the history of the Universe right up until the present day.

The METIS instrument, working at longer wavelengths, will also have a wide range of applications across all branches of astronomy. It will provide an invaluable link for astronomers wishing to follow up discoveries made with the James Webb Space Telescope by providing far greater spatial detail and dynamical information than can be achieved from space.

Selection of the science capabilities of the E-ELT was a communal effort based on dedicated meetings and workshops and the work of the science teams of the instrument Phase A studies carried out during the E-ELT Phase B design. The Science Working Group (SWG) of the E-ELT Science and Engineering subcommittee (ESE) of the STC contributed to the final science case, developing the science priorities and the sequence of instruments. These were encapsulated in an instrumentation roadmap that was part of the E-ELT construction proposal. The requirements were refined and finalised by the Project Science Team after the completion of Phase B.

The construction of these instruments is included within the Phase 1 E-ELT Programme approved by Council in December 2014.


Lars Lindberg Christensen
Head of ESO ePOD
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cell: +49 173 3872 621

About the Announcement



The first E-ELT instruments
The first E-ELT instruments
ELT Nasmyth focus
ELT Nasmyth focus