MOONS update – successful software assessment testing
26 Jun 2024



MOONS reaches another important stage before shipping to Chile.

The MOONS software team gathered around a computer in the lab at UK ATC.

MOONS (the Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph) is a next generation spectrograph currently undergoing a series of tests before it heads to the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile in the coming months. 

This rigorous assessment process is to ensure MOONS works as expected and can fulfil its science goals. 

Recently a team from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), who run the VLT, visited UK ATC in ​Edinburgh for Preliminary Acceptance Europe (PAE) software testing. 

They spent two weeks assessing the software readiness by running the software through various scenarios. This was carried out on the actual hardware, using the MOONS spectrograph, as if the instrument was being operated on telescope, to check the entire system and how the software and hardware are functioning together. 

These tests are also incredibly useful in the delivery of the operating manuals which are supplied to the astronomers who will eventually use MOONS, as well as the engineers at the VLT who will take responsibility for the instrument once it has been installed and is fully operational. 

ESO were very impressed by the complexity and capability of the instrument, with no fundamental software issues identified. The MOONS team will now work on implementing the actions identified before MOONS is shipped to Chile. 

William Taylor, Instrument Scientist at UK ATC, said: “It's great to pass yet another key stage in the testing process for MOONS. It's incredibly important that the software and the hardware work in harmony and this is great way to spot any final adjustments required before MOONS heads over 7,000 miles across the world to its new home in Chile."