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Maatschappij/bedrijvenTargetProjects and R&DProjects


Scroll to the bottom of the page to read about the latest project developments and current Target activities related to the KiDS/VIKING surveys.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) operates and maintains some of the most advanced telescope facilities in the world. Some of the latest additions to its observatory in Cerro Paranal, Chile located at an altitude of 2635m are the 2.6m VLT Survey telescope (VST) and the 4.1m VISTA telescope.

The VST telescope is currently the largest optical survey telescope, designed to quickly photograph large areas of the sky with very high quality. The total field of view of the VST is 1 square degree or twice as broad as the full Moon, allowing the telescope to make deep wide-field images of sources and direct the ESO's VLT (Very Large Telescope) to them for further detailed exploration and characterization. The VST telescope was mainly envisioned as a survey telescope with three public surveys already planned and expected to be completed within its operational lifetime. The telescope is equipped with a single wide-field imaging instrument, called OmegaCAM. OmegaCAM is a single mosaic camera consisting of 32 CCD elements (each 2Kx4K pixels), resulting in the impressive resolution of 268 Mpixels for its images.

The VISTA telescope is part of the facilities of ESO on Cerro Paranal, and the largest near-infrared survey telescope. The infrared camera mounted on Vista telescope, called VIRCAM is a collection of sixteen state-of-the-art infrared detectors (2Kx2K), making it effectively a 67 megapixel digital camera. The VISTA telescope will be primarily dedicated to systematic mapping of the sky and it is expected to produce six large public surveys.

The VST telescope (on the left) and the VISTA telescope ( on the right). Image Credit: ESO
The VST telescope (on the left) and the VISTA telescope ( on the right). Image Credit: ESO

One of the public survey on the VST telescope is the Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS). KiDS will image two patches of the extragalactic sky equivalent to 1500 square degrees in four different optical bands. The higher sensitivity of the VST telescope will render KiDS a deeper survey with higher quality images compared to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Thus, KiDS will serve as a new eye for astronomers who are particularly interested in studying weak gravitational lensing. One of the near-infrared public survey planned on VISTA telescope, VIKING, complements KiDS by observing the same area in the sky at five different infrared bands. As a result, the combined KiDS/VIKING survey will be very valuable in improving our understanding of high refshift quasars, galaxy clusters, galaxy evolution and dark energy.

The Target consortium is involved in data handling and management for both KiDS and VIKING surveys through the direct participation of one of its major partners, OmegaCEN group in the team of institutions that run the VST and VISTA telescopes. The two survey telescopes have recently become operational and it is estimated that they will generate approximately 75% of the total data output expected from all telescope on Cerro Paranal.The data from KiDS and VIKING surveys is hosted on the Target testbed, while data access and processing is facilitated by the Astro-WISE information system, which is based on the WISE technology developed by Target.

The commissioning data from the VST telescope was used by the Target team to develop software techniques for improved large-scale quality control and monitoring, which play crucial role in the Astro-WISE information system. In addition to that, upgrades were implemented that allow data to be pulled automatically from Chile - a great improvement on the previous "diplomatic bag" method of ESO. Typically, data is now processed on the Target testbed within 24 hours of acquisition with an expected data volumes of approximately 100GBytes/day. At the same time, the WISE technology ensures extreme data lineage for all raw, processed and analyzed data from the KiDS/VIKING surveys, providing an environment that facilitates the development of better calibration pipelines and more efficient processing methods. Currently, the Target team is focused on further improving the quality control mechanisms for data management in order to minimize "false alerts", which would otherwise lead to the unnecessary expensive human inspection on site.
Latest Project Developments

The VST telescope at Paranal, Chile became operational in October 2011. In the period between then and now, the OmegaCEN research team has worked hard to refine the Astro-WISE algorithms for massive data production and data quality control using the raw data from the VST. Specific improvements have been made to the KiDS pipeline related to global photometry and astrometry. The processed data has been delivered to ESO for a public data release of the KiDS survey

Scientific output from the group has stayed high. Processed data from the telescope was used by the team for the discovery of extremely distant quasars and the data mining of the massive dataset from the first six months of the commissioning data led to the quantitative analysis of the mirror degradation. Currently, the OmegaCEN team is focused on the complete transfer of the group’s operations to the Target testbed and investigation of database scalability in view of the upcoming and much more demanding Euclid Archive System.
Last modified:02 October 2015 10.52 p.m.