Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The Southern African Large Telescope project

  • David A. H. Buckley (a1) (a2), Philip A. Charles (a2), Kenneth H. Nordsieck (a3) and Darragh O'Donoghue (a2)

Abstract

The recently completed Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is a low cost, innovative, 10 m class optical telescope, which began limited scientific operations in August 2005, just 5 years after ground-breaking. This paper describes the design and construction of SALT, including the first-light instruments, SALTICAM and the Robert Stobie Spectrograph (RSS). A rigorous systems engineering approach has ensured that SALT was built to specification, on budget, close to the original schedule and using a relatively small project team. The design trade-offs, which include an active spherical primary mirror array and a fixed altitude telescope with a prime focus tracker, although restrictive in comparison to conventional telescopes, have resulted in an affordable 10 m class telescope for South Africa and its ten partners. Coupled with an initial set of two seeing-limited instruments that concentrate on the UV-visible region (320 – 900 nm) and featuring some niche observational capabilities, SALT will have an ability to conduct some unique science. This includes high time resolution studies, for which some initial results have already been obtained. Many of the versatile modes available with the RSS - which is currently being commissioned - are unique and provide unparallelled opportunities for imaging polarimetry and spectropolarimetry. Likewise, Multi-Object Spectroscopy (with slit masks) and imaging spectroscopy with the RSS, the latter using Fabry-Perot étalons and interference filters, will extend the multiplex advantage over resolutions from 300 to 9000 and fields of view of 2 to 8 arcminutes. Future instrumentation plans include an extremely stable, fibre-fed, high resolution échelle spectrograph and a near-IR (to between 1.5 to 1.7 $\mu$m) extension to the RSS. Future development possibilities include phasing the primary mirror and AO. Finally, extrapolations of the SALT/HET designs to ELT proportions remain viable and are surely more affordable than conventional, fully steerable, designs.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The Southern African Large Telescope project
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The Southern African Large Telescope project
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The Southern African Large Telescope project
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

MathJax
MathJax is a JavaScript display engine for mathematics. For more information see http://www.mathjax.org.

Keywords

The Southern African Large Telescope project

  • David A. H. Buckley (a1) (a2), Philip A. Charles (a2), Kenneth H. Nordsieck (a3) and Darragh O'Donoghue (a2)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed