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CTA prototype mid-sized telescope sees first light

Installation team in front of the FlashCam camera. Image credit: C. Föhr, MPIK

First-light in Berlin-Adlershof: a prototype mid-sized telescope for the future Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) has observed first air showers in late September in Berlin-Adlershof, already in the first night after installing the newly-developed FlashCam camera into the telescope. This installation followed a thorough and detailed test and optimisation program of the FlashCam camera prototype in the lab in the Erlangen Centre for Astroparticle Physics (ECAP) of the FAU and at the partner institute MPI for nuclear physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg. After this program it was ready for installation and test in the telescope.

The camera, weighing about 2 tons, arrived early in the morning at the DESY-Zeuthen partner institute and was installed on the telescope in the afternoon. Steering, monitoring and cooling systems were ready shortly afterwards. Early tests confirmed that the camera was fully functioning right away. FlashCam project manager German Hermann of MPIK was enthusiastic: “the short integration time of less than two days makes us optimistic that the montage of the system at the CTA-site in the Chilean desert will work flawlessly”.

It is planned to install 25 such MST telescopes (along with 4 large-sized and 70 small-size telescopes) at an astrophysical site in Chile starting in 2019.