MOONS is effectively two instruments, the Rotating Front End (RFE) that bolts to the telescope and gathers the incoming light into optical fibres, and then the spectrograph where the light from the fibres is analysed. The RFE has been designed and built in Lisbon and after many years or painstaking work, it has now arrived in Edinburgh. This is a huge achievement from the Portuguese team and major milestone for the project: both halves of MOONS now happily sit side-by-side in the lab.

Unboxing the hardware

The hardware was accompanied by a team who began several integration tests in Edinburgh. Many separate sub-systems needed to be mounted to the RFE, some of which had never actually met the hardware they are now bolted to – and they had a successful introduction!

Some of the Portuguese team. The RFE can be seen mounted on the telescope motion simulator (or BODE) in the UKATC lab. Also of note are the electronics cabinets newly installed in their final resting places on the RFE.

As its name suggests, the RFE must rotate with the telescope and so it requires a large cable wrap which carefully manages the motions of all the cables and the optical fibres as the instrument turns. Testing this needs the large telescope-motion simulator at the UKATC, so this was another “first” successfully ticked off the list while the team were here. A time-lapse video of these tests can be seen below.

The Rotating Front End rotating!

One other element that was also delivered from Portugal was the large handling frame on which the RFE sits when not bolted to the telescope. This larger structure must allow rotation of the RFE for maintenance purposes and must be chunky enough to withstand the potential vibrations of any earthquakes that could hit Chile. 

The handling frame for the RFE – painted in the shiny ESO-required yellow.

The next major event for the RFE will be the integration of the FPUs into the structure, which will happen in the next few months.

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