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Collaborative visit from Director of Iranian National Observatory

The NRT project benefits from a wealth of existing knowledge from telescope projects such as the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) and the Liverpool Telescope (LT), with engineers and scientists taking part in cross-project collaborations across different areas of mechanical, optical, structural and software engineering.

Like all telescope projects, we also develop extensively through a variety of oversight committees and advisory panels of experts designed to provide feedback about different aspects of the project. One of our most valued and productive advisory partners is the Iranian National Observatory (INO) whose 3.4 metre optical telescope (INO340) is due to obtain first light this year. The INO director, Professor Habib Khosroshahi visited the UK project office in April this year as part of a Royal-Society funded collaboration. This was the third visit of its kind as part of the project, the previous being in September 2021.

Image of a large telescope in a dome with a large shutter opening and side shutters
The Iranian National Observatory 3.4 metre telescope 'INO340'

The INO will carry out large surveys, with visiting- and service-mode observations available to the international community. Spectroscopic surveys of galaxy groups and clusters, kinematics of galaxies, as well as follow-up observations of transient sources are among the key science drivers for the INO340, the principal telescope of the site.

INO340 will be a unique tool for probing many outstanding open questions in astronomy and cosmology. It will follow the history of large-scale structures in the universe by looking at faint galaxies and the intergalactic medium. It will also address questions about the physics and nature of dark matter and dark energy. INO340 will advance our ability to identify and characterise extrasolar planets. More information can be found on their website.

Map of the Iranian mountains where the telescope is located showing the coating building, weather monitoring system, lens array and telescopes.
Map of the NRT telescopes, coating facility and weather monitoring system.

Professor Khosroshahi carried out a postdoctoral position in astronomy at the Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University from 2007-2008, before becoming an astronomy Professor at Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM) in Iran, and subsequently the director of the observatory. He remains a valued NRT project collaborator and has contributed to a wide range of discussions ranging from the science case and instrumentation, to site, enclosure, telescope structure and software decisions. The INO project is particularly inspiring as it is one of the most efficient projects, with the smallest delay timeline from conception to construction in its telescope class.

This visit from Professor Khosroshahi focused on the following main topics

  • INO340 project update

  • Review of NRT Preliminary Design outcomes and panel feedback

  • Discussion of systems engineering approaches of both INO340 and NRT (modelling, error budget development and requirements capture)

  • NRT Focal station engineering status update

  • Observatory operations, enclosure design and site monitoring

LT Director and NRT Principal Investigator Professor Iain Steele commented "Prof Khosroshahi’s visit to LJMU was a great opportunity for the NRT and INO projects to share experience and the lessons learned so far by both teams. We are looking forward to making a visit to the Iranian telescope later this year to continue to build our collaboration and gain a real insight into the challenges of telescope construction on a remote site".

The NRT team look forward to continuing the collaboration with INO and hope to arrange a visit to the observatory later this year.


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