The Instrumental Pole is charged with the definition, design, and realization of large instrumental projects for both ground-based and space-borne astronomy, within the framework of international collaborations; it has associated Research and Development (R&D) activities in support of these activities.
The pole comprises a score of engineers and technicians of high technicality that have built large ground-based optical instruments, in particular the GIRAFFE and X-shooter spectrographs for the VLT, and 3D-NTT. Its role is to reinforce the instrumental potential within Paris Observatory and to support inter-laboratory activities by the regrouping of heavy means and competences. These competences range from general, such as the organization of projects, to the simulation and design of instruments, the manufacture, integration and test of complex systems, and their associated technologies such as optics, control and command electronics, metrology, vacuum technologies and micro-technologies (micro-optics, microlithography, micromechanics). A “quality” team interacts with the work of each of the “project” teams.
The Instrumental Pole plays a major role within Paris Observatory, where it forms the main ground-based technical team. Thanks to its competences and previous achievements the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has entrusted it with key responsibilities in the studies of two planned first-light instruments for the E-ELT.