UT1 Science Verification

Science Verification Overview

  • A summary of the VLT-UT1 SV observations.
  • Please note the editorial in the October issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
  • A new article on the Science Verification of VLT UT1 appeared on the September 1998 issue of the ESO Messenger. Both the text (in gzipped postscript format) and color figures [1], [2], [3], [4] are available.
  • VLT-UT1 Science Verification data are now available. A set of CD-ROM disks, containing both the raw frames and the coadded images, has been sent to all Astronomical Institutes in the ESO member countries on October 13. Access to these data is also possible through the SV Data Server.
  • How to quote the VLT-UT1 Science Verification data in your publications.
  • Data distribution policy.
  • Acknowledgment.

Scope of Science Verification

Performance verification is a step which has regularly been employed in space missions to assess and qualify the scientific capabilities of an instrument. Within this framework, it is the precise goal of the VLT Science Verification program (SV) to ensure that the astronomical community receives telescopes which are fully understood and tested, and instruments with well characterized performances. The SV phase will, therefore, take place after the commissioning period and will include a set of typical scientific observations that should verify and demonstrate to the community the capabilities of the new telescopes and instruments in the operational frame work of the VLT Observatory. Science observations will also help check the interplay between the hardware and software interfaces under the VLT operational paradigm.

The SV program is designed to promptly deliver pre-processed, calibrated data to astronomers in the community through the VLT archive. This will allow potential VLT users to promptly assess the suitability of the new telescopes and instruments to their science, and at the same time will submit the VLT observatory and its operations to a wider scrutiny.

With the goal and aim described above and for the VLT SV to be successful, it will require full and active involvement of the community. This is precisely why the UT1 SV Team has created this web site: in this way, we will strive to provide interested astronomers with all the information concerning the preparation, scheduling, and execution of SV observations, we will make the calibrated data available for analysis, and we will look for the advice and collaboration of the most experienced astronomers in Europe to ensure that the data are properly interpreted and understood.

SV Phases: Telescopes and Instruments

The science verification of the VLT Unit Telescope 1 has been conducted by the UT1 SV Team in close collaboration with the Commissioning Team. The VLT Test Camera is the instrument of telescope commissioning as well as of SV. An SV phase will also take place for each of the VLT instruments, and shall document their scientific performance, limits, and, if necessary, correct the operational setup. For this purpose the SV Team will be joined by the instrument PI and by the ESO Instrument Scientist. The SV of the UTs will include the first dark run after commissioning of each telescope, while the instrument SV will last for about one week following the second commissioning phase (system optimization) of the instrument and will cover all instrument functions.

The Science Verification of Unit Telescope # 1

At present, these web pages only cover the SV of the Unit Telescope # 1, which took place from August 17-31, 1998.  An important aspect  for the target selection  is the accessible sky region. As the installation and commissioning of the instruments approaches information will be added concerning those specific SV programs.

  • Science Verification Observations
    List of the approved observing programs, their scientific rationale, and technical issues.
  • SV Observation Reports Short summaries describing each observing night during SV.
  • SV Data
    With the exception of the HDF-South data, released worldwide, access to SV images will be restricted to astronomers in ESO member countries and Chile.
  • VLT Test Camera
    A brief description of the VLT Test Camera.

In addition to the information provided above, interested astronomers may find it useful to browse through these official ESO documents concerning the VLT Science Verification. All documents are in PostScript format (gzipped).

  • Science Verification Plan (UT1)
    Description of the observations which are part of the SV Program, the guidelines behind their selection, and the required calibration (ESO document STC-239).
  • VLT Test Camera Technical Specifications
    Describes the performance, design, development, and test requirements of the two VLT Test Cameras.
  • VLT Test Camera CCD
    Describes the characteristics of the CCD mounted on the VLT Test Camera.
  • VLT Test Camera Calibration Plan
    This document defines the observations required for the calibration of the large imaging CCD of the VLT Test Camera.
  • Messenger article June 1998
    Description of science verification in issue 92 of The Messenger (June 1998)
  • Messenger article September 1998
    Summary of science verification observations in issue 93 of The Messenger (September 1998). Color figures [1], [2], [3], [4] are provided separately.
  • The HDF-South Project at ESO
    ESO's contribution to the HDF-South campaign in August and September 1998.