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icon 1st Apr 2016
Subject: First Upgrade for CIRCE

At the time CIRCE started science operations last year, only 3 standard broad band filters, the classical J, H, and K bands were mounted in the instrument. To improve this limiting setup, during last March 2016 the CIRCE team together with GTC staff went through the first upgrade of the instrument. CIRCE was initially detached from the telescope and moved to the GTC clean room. After warming up, the instrument was opened to access the filter wheels. A number of new optical components were then installed. Among them, four mid-band filters (FWHM ~ 30 nm) acquired as part of the EMIR project mapping two molecular hydrogen transition lines (at 2130 and 2248 nm) and their adjacent continuum (more info in EMIR filters details).

In view of the possibility to implement polarimetric and spectroscopic capabilities, as originally foreseed for this instrument, a Wollaston prism and two low-resolution grisms (R~450 for a 0.6 arcsec slit) were installed. One grism centered on the JH wavelength region, and the second one covering the HK region.

After reassembling, the instrument was successfully re-installed at the telescope and CIRCE science operations restarted normally. The commissioning of the new optical components will be completed in the coming months depending on the technical time availability at the telescope.

CIRCEfilter
CIRCE filter wheels.

 


 

icon 10st Dec 2014
Subject: First Light for CIRCE

On the night of December 10th 2014, the third scientific instrument was successfully installed at the GTC 10.4 m telescope. CIRCE, a new near-infrared camera designed and constructed by the University of Florida (P.I.: Steve Eikenberry), will be used as a visitor instrument at GTC. This new facility will work on the very important spectral region covered by the J, H, and K bands, filling the gap between the first GTC generation instruments, the optical camera OSIRIS and the thermal-IR camera CANARICAM.

UFinstruments
CIRCE instrument in place at GTC Folded Cassegrain station.

It was a frantic day started with basically nothing working as planned. More than two tons were added to the telescope, including the instrument itself, liquid nitrogen line and tank, electronic racks, counterweights, with literally hundreds of separate parts having to be fine tuned in order to work seemingly together. Each component had been extensively tested on the lab over the previous week so the team remained confident they could make it on schedule. Indeed, by sunset everything was in place. After a few hiccup of the system, which made things even more dramatic, at around 22:00UT CIRCE was up and running delivering its very first image of an anonymous star in the Orion constellation. Hand clapping immediately filled the GTC control room, to celebrate the success and revitalize an exhausted team.

UFinstruments
CIRCE final steps before its attachment to GTC elevation ring.

A lot more work will be necessary before the instrument will be offered to the GTC scientific community. Commissioning will continue during the next few months. CIRCE is expected to start the routinely observations on March 2015. Right now CIRCE is already on track in order to provide its first scientific results in the near future!!!.

UFinstruments
Some CIRCE instrument team members with GRANTECAN staff celebrating the first image on CIRCE at GTC control room. Other UF CIRCE team members (not pictured) include Deno Stelter, Frank Varosi, Veronica Donoso, Brian Chinn, and Kendall Ackley.

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Last modified: 14 April 2016