MOONS has just taken delivery of by far and away the largest component we have received so far: the radiation shield. This colossal* structure will line the inside of the instrument’s cryostat, forming the final barrier between the warm outside world and the chilled world inside MOONS, which will operate at around 130 K.
The radiation shield itself will eventually get wrapped in a Multi-Layer Insulation Blanket, which is then all placed inside the vacuum vessel. The main vessel itself is therefore even larger, which is an intriguing prospect considering how much of our lab this part has already consumed!
* It should be noted that “Colossal” is a relative term. In many industries, the scales we are dealing with in MOONS are not that impressive. However, by astronomy standards this is big. It is the largest instrument we have ever assembled at the ATC, and furthermore, we think it might be the largest cryostat yet used in any astronomical instrument. This might not be the case, but we haven’t found a larger example yet. If you know of one, please do get in touch – no really please do, we would be interested to hear from you!