POPS, the Precision Optical Pick-Off System, will be a robotically controlled pick-off arm for use in instruments designed for multiple integral-field spectroscopy in the infrared.
The pick-off system will steer light from the objects under study onto a fixed array of image slicers which will then produce a resolved 2-dimensional spectrum of each astronomical object. The system will be a key technology for use in the next generation of infrared multi-object spectrometers for large ground-based and space-based telescopes.
Two such instruments employing this capability are currently under study for Gemini (link opens in a new window) and the ESO VLT (link opens in a new window). The technology will also have wider applications in cryogenic laser machining and for deployable optics in space.
POPS will be a robotically controlled optical relay capable of being very accurately positioned, and with high reliability even at cryogenic temperatures. A prototype will be built and tested under both ambient temperature and cryogenic conditions (down to 77K or -196C). An investigation will be undertaken into manufacturing processes suitable for industrial manufacture of large numbers of units.
This project is being conducted under a STFC Industrial Support Scheme grant in partnership with Astrium UK and the University of Durham Astronomical Intrumentation Group (link opens in a new window).
More details regarding the project are available from the POPS project pages.