The IAC and the ESA sign an agreement that extends the programs of connection and transmission of optical data at the Teide Observatory
The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed this afternoon an agreement extending the optical communication programmes with space missions and the space debris studies at the Teide Observatory in Izaña (Tenerife). The agreement was signed at the headquarters of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA-ESTEC) in Noordwijk (Netherlands), where the 81st meeting of the International Scientific Committee (ICC) of the Canary Islands Observatories will be held tomorrow.
Franco Ongaro, Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality, and Rolf Densing, Director of Operations, signed the agreement on behalf of ESA in the presence of Günther Hasinger, Director of Science at ESA; Rafael Rebolo, Director of IAC, signed on behalf of IAC in the presence of Miquel Serra Ricart, Administrator of the Teide Observatory.
ESA intends to continue with the development of optical terminals suitable for optical links to satellites, which requires the existence of an optical station "anchor" located in one of the best astronomical sites in the world, such as the Teide Observatory in Tenerife. The IAC, for its part, is interested in continuing its developments in the field of optical communications in space.
The most important European Space Agency facility at the Teide Observatory is the Optical Ground Station (OGS). Equipped with a 1 m aperture telescope, its initial task is to carry out in orbit tests of laser telecommunication terminals on board satellites in low orbits and in geostationary orbit. Since 2001, special trash tracking has also been carried out in the geostationary orbit and the GEO transfer orbit. The station has a large field camera installed in the Ritchey-Chretien focus of the telescope, especially dedicated to this purpose. In addition, a third of the observation time is dedicated to astronomical research by ESA and IAC teams, who install their equipment in the different focal points of the telescope. Now, as a result of this agreement, ESA and the IAC are willing to host additional optical systems to those already existing in the Canary Islands.
The agreement signed today with ESA precedes the 81st meeting of the International Scientific Committee (ICC) of the Canary Islands Observatories, which will take place tomorrow in Noordwijk and will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty by which these observatories and the IAC were internationalized. The JRC is the mechanism through which the institutions that form part of them participate effectively in making decisions that affect the operation of the telescopes.
During tomorrow's meeting, reports will be presented on future installations at the Observatories in the Canary Islands, such as the 4 m robotic telescope New Robotic Telescope (NRT) and the European solar telescope, the European Solar Telescope (EST), also 4 m in diameter. In addition, various aspects of the operation of both Observatories will be discussed as well as the plans for the meeting on the future astrophysical instruments that will be installed in their telescopes. The JRC time allocation programme will also be presented and the next meeting, which will take place in La Laguna, Tenerife, in mid-November, will be fixed.
The IAC Observatories are part of Spain's network of Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (ICTS).