Instrumentation projects

At MPIA, we develop and build state-of-the-art astronomical instruments for large optical telescopes. Our focus is on near-infrared instrumentation. Here is a list of all projects with MPIA involvement - often as part of international consortia.

Ground-based instrumentation

Main projects

Overview of the most recent instrumentation projects with MPIA involvement.  The instruments CARMENES, GRAVITY, LUCI, MATISSE, SPHERE are operational, PANIC is undergoing an upgrade.  The remainder of the instruments is under development.

4-metre Multi-Object Spectroscopic Telescope – for ESO/VISTA. Contact scientist at MPIA: Maria Bergemann/Wolfgang Gässler more
Advanced Rayleigh guided Ground layer adaptive Optics System, the laser guide star system for the LBT. Contact Scientist at MPIA: Wolfgang Gässler more
Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Échelle Spectrographs – for the Calar Alto 3.5m telescope Contact scientist at MPIA: Ralf Launhardt/Martin Kürster more
The Universe in Motion. Precision Astrometry with the ESO/VLTI. Contact scientist at MPIA: Wolfgang Brandner more
Interferometric NIR camera at the LBT. Contact scientist at MPIA: Tom Herbst (PI) more
LBT NIR spectroscopic Utility with Camera and Integral-Field Unit for Extragalactic Research, two NIR spectrographs for the LBT; LUCI-1 and LUCI-2, operational. Contact scientist at MPIA: Roland Gredel more
A mid-infrared imaging spectro-interferometer for the ESO/VLT. Contact scientist at MPIA: Thomas Henning more


May 22, 2018
The Mid-Infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph Contact scientist at MPIA: Markus Feldt more
Multi-AO Imaging Camera for Deep Observations at the E-ELT. Contact Scientist at MPIA: Jörg-Uwe Pott more


NOT Transient Explorer for the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT). Contact Scientist at MPIA: Martin Kürster more
PAnoramic Near-Infrared Camera for the Calar Alto 2.2m telescope. Contact scientist at MPIA: Klaus Meisenheimer (PI) more
High-Contrast Adaptive Optics Instrument for finding and observing extra-solar Planets – for the ESO/VLT. Contact scientist at MPIA: Markus Feldt more

Ground-based instrumentation

Other Projects

3.5m telescope

Adaptive Optics with a Layer for Astronomy. Decommissioned. more
Large Area Imager for Calar Alto. more
Multi Object Spectrogragh for Calar Alto. more
Near Infrared Wide-Field Prime Focus Camera (2K detector). more
New Infrared Multimode Imager / Spectrometer for the Cassegrain Focus. Decomissioned. more
Near Infrared Wide-Field Prime Focus Camera. Decomissioned. more
Pyramid Infrared Wavefront Sensor. Decomissioned. more
Double spectrograph for the 3.5m telescope. more

2.2m telescope

Lucky Imaging for high spatial resolution. more
Calar Alto Faint Object Spectrograph. more
COUDÉ with MAGIC. Decomissioned. more
MPI for Astronomy general-purpose near-IR Camera. Decomissioned. more

1.23m telescope

Charge Coupled Device Imager for the 1.23m telescope more

ESO/La Silla


Wide field imager on the ESO/MPG 2.2m telescope. more
Lucky Imaging Camera at the 3.5m NTT. more


Exoplanet Search with PRIma, the Differential Delay Line project for PRIMA (Phase-Referenced Imaging and Micro-arcsecond Astrometry). Differential delay lines installed in Sept. 2008, integration and tests of other subsystems in 2009, project on hold. more
Mid-infrared Interferometric Instrument for VLTI. Decomissioned. more
NAOS-CONICA adaptive optics system. more


The laser for the VLT. Decomissioned.

Large Binocular Telescope (LBT)

LBT Software Development. The MPIA contributed to this project until mid-2009. more


Optical path difference and Vibration Monitoring System, a system of accelerometers distributed over the six telescope mirrors.

WISE Observatory

The Large Area Imager for the Wise Observatory. more



Mid infrared Array eXpandible. Decomissioned. more
ASTrometric and phase-Referenced Astronomy upgrade of the KECK NIR interferometer. Contact Scientist at MPIA: Jörg-Uwe Pott more

Space-based instrumentation

In developing and helping to build instrumentation for space telescopes, MPIA's focus is on near- and mid-infrared observations. This is an overview of all space-based instruments MPIA has been involved in - often as part of larger, international consortia.

Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (NASA); renamed to Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Contact scientist at MPIA: Oliver Krause more

Herschel Space Observatory

Herschel was an ESA space observatory for infrared observations. It was launched on 14 May 2009 and decommissioned on 29 April 2013.

Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer. Operational 2009-2013. more

James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a NASA/ESA space observatory slated for launch in 2018 - the successor to the highly productive Hubble Space Telescope.

Several thousands of people are currently engaged in the flagship mission JWST, the premier space observatory for the next decade which is jointly being developed by the US, European and Canadian Space Agencies (NASA, ESA and CSA). JWST has four main scientific themes: more
Mid-infrared Instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope (NASA, ESA and CSA) more
Near-Infrared Spectrograph for the James Webb Space Telescope (NASA, ESA and CSA). Contact scientist at MPIA: Oliver Krause more


Euclid is a Dark Energy mission within the Cosmic Vision Programme of the European Space Agency (ESA). It will map 15.000 sq.deg of extragalactic sky with high angular resolution visual imaging, infrared spectroscopy and photometry. MPIA's Euclid group is playing a central role in the NISP Near Infrared Spectrophotometer, providing photometry filters and calibration source, as well as the NISP-P Instrument Scientist and NISP Calibration Lead.

Visible and NIR wide-field imager to map the geometry of the dark Universe (planned ESA M-class satellite mission). Contact Scientist at MPIA: Knud Jahnke more
Near Infrared Spectrophotometer. Under development. more

Infrared Space Observatory (ISO)

ISO was the first versatile infrared space observatory. The space telescope, with a cooled 60 cm telescope, was launched in November 1995 and was operational until 1998.


Infrared Space Observatory Photometer. Decommissioned in 1998.

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