The Dark Energy Survey

The Dark Energy Survey

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DES Instrumentation

The silvered dome of the Blanco 4-meter telescope which will hold the DECam at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Photo credit: T. Abbott and NOAO/AURA/NSF
The science of the Dark Energy Survey requires the construction of a unique astronomical instrument able to meet demanding requirements. The idea of building an entirely new system to answer a specific scientific question is a relatively new but growing trend in the field of astronomy. In the past, most telescopes were constructed as general-purpose facilities that might have small pieces added or undergo slight modifications to meet different needs.

To help answer the question about dark energy, the instrument must record information about extremely large numbers of very distant galaxies and make the information rapidly available to the astronomers of DES. This instrument will consist of a new camera, DECam, specifically designed to be sensitive to the highly redshifted light from distant galaxies, to be mounted on a classic telescope, the Blanco 4m telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in La Serena, Chile. The imaging system will be supported by a combination of microwave and optical data links that will provide the recorded data to the survey members.

DES instrumentation consists of three major subsystems: