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4 August 2016 MATISSE: alignment, integration, and test phase first results
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MATISSE (Multi AperTure mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment) is the spectro-interferometer for the VLTI of the European Southern Observatory, operating in near and mid-infrared, and combining up to four beams from the unit or the auxiliary telescopes. MATISSE will offer new breakthroughs in the study of circumstellar environments by allowing the multispectral mapping of the material distribution, the gas and essentially the dust.

The instrument consists in a warm optical system (WOP) accepting four optical beams and relaying them after a dichroic splitting (for the L and M- and N- spectral bands) to cold optical benches (COB) located in two separate cryostats. The Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur is in charge of the WOP providing the spectral band separation, optical path equalization and modulation, pupil positioning, beam anamorphosis, beam commutation, and calibration. NOVA-ASTRON is in charge of the COB providing the functions of beam selection, reduction of thermal background emission, spatial filtering, pupil transfer, photometry and interferometry splitting, additional beam anamorphosis, spectral filtering, polarization selection, image dispersion, and image combination. The Max Planck Institut für Radio Astronomie is in charge of the operation and performance validation of the two detectors, a HAWAII-2RG from Teledyne for the L- and M- bands and a Raytheon AQUARIUS for the N-band. Both detectors are provided by ESO. The Max Planck Institut für Astronomie is in charge of the electronics and the cryostats for which the requirements on space limitations and vibration stability resulted on very specific and stringent decisions on the design.

The integration and test of the COB: the two cryogenic systems, including the cold benches and the detectors, have been conducted at MPIA in parallel with the integration of the WOP at OCA. At the end of 2014, the complete instrument was integrated at OCA. Following this integration, a period of interface and alignment between the COB and the WOP took place resulting in the first interference fringes in the L-band during summer 2015 and the first interference fringes in the N-ban in March 2016.

After a period of optimization of both the instrument reliability and the environmental working conditions, the test plan is presently being conducted in order to evaluate the complete performance of the instrument and its compliance with the high-level requirements. The present paper gives the first results of the alignment, integration and test phase of the MATISSE instrument.
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