The QUEST Camera


The 1.0m ESO Schmidt telescope is located at La Silla Observatory. The previously decommissioned  telescope is newly refurbished and roboticized by the Yale QUEST team with the help of ESO and COMSOFT. Now the telescope takes automated observations night after night without the assistance of a human operator. Science observations with the QUEST camera commenced in late 2009. The telescope time is shared between the La Silla-QUEST KBO survey and the La Silla-QUEST Variability Survey. Pictured above is Yale engineer Will Emmet,  a principal designer of the QUEST camera standing beneath the ESO Schmidt telescope. Other key members of the QUEST team are Mark Gebhard and Jim Musser from University of Indiana, Nan Ellman, Rochelle Lauer, and Tom Hurteau from Yale University

The Quasar Equatorial Survey Team (QUEST) large-area CCD camera was built at Yale University and Indiana University. The 161-megapixel camera  has an effective field-of-view of ~8.3 square degrees. The 112 CCD camera mosaic is arranged in four columns or “fingers” along the East-West direction each equipped with 28 2400x600 pixel CCDs in the North-South direction. The gap between chips in the North-South direction is ~1.2 arcminutes and the spacing between adjacent fingers along the East-West direction is  ~25 arcminutes. The camera was previously installed on the robotic 1.2-m Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California . At Palomar, the QUEST camera was instrumental in finding dwarf planet Eris, as well as many other large KBOs including Hauema, Makemake, Sedna, and Orcus. The camera was refurbished and installed at prime focus on the 1.0 m ESO Schmidt Telescope in Chile in 2009.  Dr. Charles Baltay at Yale University leads the survey for nearby supernovae and other variable objects with La Silla-QUEST.

1.0m ESO Schmidt Telescope

La Silla-Cerro Tololo High-Speed Radio Link

Our nightly images are transferred via wireless microwave link from La Silla 100 kilometers away to Cerro Tololo where the data is then relayed back to Yale. The high-speed link was set up by David Rabinowitz (Yale) (shown here setting up antenna connection  at La Silla), with lots of help from Hans-Werner Braun (UCSD), Jim Hale (UCSD), Ron Lambert (CTIO), and Sam Leffler.

Image Credit:  Jim Hale