Agreement Signed for E-ELT MAORY Adaptive Optics System

10 December 2015

An agreement has been signed between ESO and an international consortium [1] for the design and construction of the MAORY adaptive optics system, to be operated at the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

The agreement was signed by Nicolò D'Amico, President of the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF, Italy), on behalf of the consortium, and Tim de Zeeuw, ESO Director General, at a ceremony held at ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany, on 10 December 2015. The principal investigator of MAORY, Emiliano Diolaiti (INAF), was also present.

Renato Cianfarani, Italian Consul General, and Roberto Tamai, ESO E-ELT Programme Manager, were also in attendance. Other participants included Paolo Ciliegi (INAF MAORY Project Manager), Philippe Feautrier (IPAG MAORY co-investigator), Filippo Maria Zerbi (Head of National Division for Ground Based Programmes in the Scientific Directorate of INAF), as well as Giovanni Fabrizio Bignami, Italian member of ESO Council.

MAORY, or Multi-conjugate Adaptive Optics RelaY, will enable near-infrared instruments attached to the E-ELT, such as MICADO, the first generation E-ELT camera, to benefit from laser guide star adaptive optics assisted observing.

MAORY carefully analyses the light from six laser guide stars and three natural guide stars to calculate the precise adjustments to be applied to deformable mirrors located in the light path between the object in the sky and the science instrument.

By making fast, but tiny, changes to the shapes of these mirrors, the disturbing effects of the atmosphere on astronomical sources can be cancelled out. This greatly sharpens the images received by the detector and so improves our ability to detect very small features in astronomical objects. Adaptive optics also allows astronomers to detect fainter sources, for example more distant galaxies, as the light arriving in the science camera becomes more concentrated. MAORY will hence enable the high resolution camera MICADO to achieve its ambitious science goals.

MAORY is designed to use three deformable mirrors, one of which is the massive telescope’s 2.4-metre quaternary mirror. The other deformable mirrors will be located within MAORY itself. By using more than one deformable mirror, MAORY compensates for turbulence in layers at different altitudes in the atmosphere. The net effect for the astronomer, compared to simpler adaptive optics systems, is that observations over a much wider field of view benefit from improved images.

MAORY will build on the experience of the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD), which proved the feasibility of the technology behind MAORY on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). MAORY has also drawn on extensive earlier development work over many years, both at ESO and in the community, as well as current work on the Adaptive Optics Facility of the VLT. It will enable the E-ELT to fully exploit its position as the world's biggest eye on the sky.


[1] The MAORY consortium consists of Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (Italy), and Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France).



Emiliano Diolaiti
MAORY Principal Investigator
Bologna, Italy
Tel: +39 051 2095708

Philippe Feautrier
MAORY Co-Investigator
Grenoble, France
Tel: +33 4 76 63 59 81

Suzanne Ramsay
ESO MAORY Project Scientist
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6665

Florian Kerber
ESO MAORY Project Manager
Garching bei München, Germany
+49 89 3200 6757

Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591

About the Announcement



Agreement signed for E-ELT MAORY adaptive optics system
Agreement signed for E-ELT MAORY adaptive optics system
Agreement signed for E-ELT MAORY adaptive optics system
Agreement signed for E-ELT MAORY adaptive optics system
Agreement signed for E-ELT MAORY adaptive optics system
Agreement signed for E-ELT MAORY adaptive optics system