The UK Astronomy Technology Centre

The UK Astronomy Technology Centre, part of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, is the national centre for astronomical instrumentation.  In collaboration with other institutes the UK ATC participated in the project start-up and developing the overall instrument design, and made major contributions to the initial opto-mechanical design of the photometer channels (ie. the camera optics and layout), and the concepts for the chopper or beam steering mechanism. The UK ATC was responsible for the design, testing and manufacture of the beam steering mechanism. They also contributed to the focal plane systems engineering, a key role in ensuring that the final instrument performance meets the astronomical requirements. Current effort is contributing towards the instrument control centre design – the software necessary to deal with the data that SPIRE will produce.

Name About me
Rob Ivison UK Astronomy Technology Centre Institute for Astronomy rji AT work towards understanding the formation and evolution of gargantuan systems of stars, like the Milky Way – galaxies. I specialise in observations at far-infrared, submillimetre and radio wavelengths. Energy emitted at far-infrared wavelengths tends to originate in clouds of cold dusty gas, inpenetrable to optical light. In 1997 I exploited a couple of physics tricks (`gravitational lensing’ and the `negative K correction’) allowed to find a new population of dusty galaxies in the distant Universe. Now, with Herschel, I aim to combine those tricks with a useful side-effect of the finite speed of light, thereby peeling back the layers of time and watching galaxies form and evolve.
Bruce Sibthorpe UK Astronomy Technology Centre Institute for AstronomyI developed a simulator for the SPIRE instrument, and used it optimise the way the observatory operates. I am also involved in the astronomy programmes, with a particular interest in debris discs. These are discs of dusty material generated from collisions of asteroids and comets, similar to those found in our own solar-system. However, the amount of dust in these systems is far higher than we see in our solar-system today, leading us to think that these systems are going through a period called Late Heavy Bombardment, wherein lots of asteroids are colliding and creating the vast amounts of dust we see. Herschel will be able to detect more debris discs than any previous telescope, and will tell us exciting new information about the early stages of the solar-system
Gillian Wright UK Astronomy Technology Centre Institute for Astronomy