The Cryogenic high-resolution InfraRed Echelle Spectrograph (CRIRES) is currently undergoing a major upgrade led by ESO in collaboration with a consortium. The upgrade project (CRIRES+), which will significantly expand the scientific capabilities of CRIRES, recently achieved two major milestones: optical Final Design Review (FDR) in June 2015 and Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in September 2015. The current schedule foresees commissioning of CRIRES+ in Q1 2018.
CRIRES+ Passes PDR and Optical FDR
The CRIRES+ consortium consists of ESO together with: the Thüringer Landessternwarte, Germany; the Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August Universität Göttingen, Germany; the Institutionen för fysik och astronomi, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden; and the Osservatorio di Arcetri, INAF, Italy. The enhanced capabilities include a new cross-disperser that will increase the simultaneous wavelength coverage by about a factor of ten and HAWAII 2RG detectors to accommodate the new spectral format. A new gas cell to achieve radial velocity precision of 2-3 m s-1 to search for super Earth-mass planets in the habitable zone of M-dwarfs and a novel polarimetry unit to characterise stellar magnetic fields will also be installed. In addition improvements to the stability and reproducibility of the spectral format, new data reduction software and general refurbishment to prolong the life of the instrument (see Dorn et al. 2014 for details) are planned.
The outcome of these Reviews will see two new additions to the baseline design: a linear line polarisation mode, in addition to circular polarisation, operating from Y – K band and a Fabry-Perot Interferometer for non-simultaneous high-precision wavelength calibration from Y – K. The linear polarimeter will allow for new scientific studies ranging from the detection of bio signatures in exoplanets, improving the characterisation of surface magnetic fields in low mass stars, to measuring the alignment of interstellar dust in the Galaxy. The CRIRES+ optical system is now in the manufacturing, integration and testing phase and the instrument is expected to be shipped back to Paranal by the end of 2017, with installation being carried out in early 2018.