21 Sep 2009



The ​​​​​​​​​​​Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA)​ is part of the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory that observes the southern sky, which it maps systematically.

View inside ESO's Paranal Observatory

​​​​​​​​​​Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA)​

Credit: Gavin Dalton
It's performing six public surveys, with different depths and areas, of the Milky Way and neighbouring galaxies.

RAL Space Involvement

RAL is leading a consortium with UKATC and Durham University. 

The Imaging Systems Division (alongside collaborators from UKATC and the University of Durham) were responsible for the design and construction of the Infrared camera. The camera is a 64 megapixel camera with a 1.65 degree field of view, which is comprised of sixteen Raytheon HgCdTe VIRGO IR detectors. The focal plane also contains six CCDs which provide guiding and wavefront sensing information for the telescope. It is the largest infrared camera ever built, both in terms of field of view and number of detector pixels.

The camera itself has an unusual optical design compared to other cameras observing this frequency range. It uses a nested cold baffleVista's Infrared camera arrangement to block out-of-beam thermal emission from reaching the focal plane instead of the re-imaging optics and cold pupil stop which are often common.​​


Main Objectives
World-leading facility for IR survey work.

Start Date
2008, delivered in 2009.

UKATC, VISTA Consortium: Queen Mary, University of London as consortium leader, Queen's University Belfast, University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, University of Central Lancashire, Durham University, University of Edinburgh, University of Hertfordshire, Keele University, University of Leicester, Liverpool John Moores University, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, University of St Andrews, University of Southampton, University of Sussex, and University College London.

Further Project Information

For more information please contact, RAL Space Enquiries​​