Keck Observatory - MOSFIRE

During the 1990s, the Keck I and II telescopes were built at the summit of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano. They are among the world’s largest optical/near-infrared telescopes currently in use.

Keck Observatory - MOSFIRE

2012–present | As part of efforts launched in 2005 to refurbish the observatory’s equipment, CSEM worked on MOSFIRE, a new instrument designed to analyze the infrared radiation emitted by stars and provide data on their composition, temperature and other characteristics. CSEM’s engineers created, highly precise mechanical shutters capable of forming 46 programmable slits with a positioning accuracy of around 10 micrometers. MOSFIRE can allow light from a celestial object to enter the instrument while at the same time blocking out rays from the rest of the cosmos. It was installed in 2012 and has been operational ever since.

MOSFIRE— Reconfigurable slit-mask mechanism | Keck Observatory (Hawaii)

CSEM was awarded this contract based on very similar work it had done for the James Webb Space Telescope. Although CSEM’s prototype was not selected, it attracted the attention of experts. Decisive in this was how CSEM's design handled constraints inherent in operating under extreme conditions. The technical requirements for the Keck telescopes are very strict – to avoid disrupting infrared analysis, the instrument must function inside a chilled enclosure (–150°C) and be able to operate for 10 years without maintenance. This is due to the difficulty involved in accessing the telescope, and the huge costs that such repairs would entail.

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