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UW-Madison puts out high-tech telescope bid request

By Jeff Moore

The Southern African Large Telescope is the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, and equal to the largest in the world. Gathering more than 25 times as much light as any existing African telescope, SALT can detect objects as faint as a candle flame on the moon.

A major component of SALT is the Prime Focus Imaging Spectrograph, aka the Robert Stobie Spectrograph, named in honor of the late director of the South African Astronomical Observatory. The RSS was designed and built for SALT by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Rutgers University and the RSS package was installed in SALT in 2005.

The RSS is a dual-beam Visible/Near-IR spectrograph that uses Volume Phase Holographic gratings to achieve high throughput from 320 nanomicrons to about 1.7 microns. The optical design includes all transmissive optics for high efficiency and compactness. Objects such as disk galaxies, star-forming regions, and supernova remnants are candidates for RSS maps. Simultaneous discovery and spectroscopy of objects such as high redshift clusters of galaxies or extragalactic planetary nebulae are possible with the RSS.

From ultimate sensitivity to extended diffuse emission, objects like the Magellanic Stream or high-velocity clouds are enhanced by the large collecting area of the RSS. In critical imaging situations, where complicated objects require the highest possible spatial resolution, such as the crowded cores of globular star clusters, the spectroscopic images provided by a RSS are essential to reliably identify the sources of the spectra.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Astronomy, Space Science and Engineering Center, is soliciting bids for the coating of nine science-grade lenses that will form the camera portion of the Near-Infrared upgrade to the RSS. Administrative questions regarding this solicitation must be directed to Eric Thompson of UW-Madison at 1225 W. Dayton St., Room 343, Madison WI, (608) 262-5640 (phone), (608) 263-6780 (fax) or eric.thompson@ssec.wisc.edu.

Technical questions must be directed to Andrew I. Sheinis at (608) 262-0492 or sheinis@astro.wisc.edu.

Bids are due at 2 p.m. Sept. 30. E-mailed bids may be sent to bids@bussvc.wisc.edu or bids may be faxed to (608) 262-4467 or hand-delivered to the UW-Madison Purchasing Services, 21 N. Park St., Suite 6101, Madison, WI 53715.

The bid ad with detailed specifications can be found at http://vendornet.state.wi.us/vendornet/wais/docs/15509_0.DOC.

High-resolution SALT space imagings are available at www.science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2005-news/SALT8-2005.htm.

Jeff Moore is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 225-1819.

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