INAF-OATs at the forefront for the construction of CUBES

The CUBES (Cassegrain U-Band Efficient Spectrograph) project, an ultraviolet eye for ESO's VLT telescope in Chile, moves into operational phase. On February 15, 2022, INAF President Marco Tavani and ESO Director General Xavier Barcons signed the Construction Agreement of CUBES (Cassegrain U-Band Efficient Spectrograph), an innovative spectrograph for the ultraviolet band to be installed on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at ESO Paranal Observatory, in Chile.
The CUBES project is carried out by a consortium of institutes from five countries led by INAF together with Brazil, Germany, Great Britain and Poland.
"This is the first time that an instrument for the Very Large Telescope is built by an Italian-led consortium", comments Marco Tavani, President of INAF. "This important step shows the excellence of the Italian astronomical community in the international scientific panorama."
INAF-OATs counts a large and qualified participation in the project. Stefano Cristiani, Principal Investigator, underlines the importance in modern astrophysics of using multiple channels of information, with various technologies, ground-based or space-born: "CUBES will observe with great efficiency in the band between 300 and 400 nanometers, where even the future giant ELT telescope will struggle". "The ultraviolet band is strongly absorbed by our atmosphere", add Gabriele Cescutti and Valentina D'Odorico "but it contains unparalleled information on key chemical elements, from the lightest such as beryllium to the heaviest like uranium, to understand the evolution of stars, the explosion of massive objects, including the optical counterparts of gravitational wave sources and also on basic aspects of cosmology and fundamental physics". "Building an efficient instrument in such an extreme observational band requires a very complex design and optimization effort", explains Roberto Cirami, Project Manager of CUBES "for which an accurate work of performance simulation and preparation for data processing is required" echo Mariagrazia Franchini and Guido Cupani.
CUBES will be one of the first tools to use the same control software that will be used by the ELT tools. The Basovizza Group, directly involved in the development and testing of these new technologies, confirms its position as an international reference center in the field of ground-based instrumentation control. In fact, in addition to Cirami, Igor Coretti, head of control electronics and Giorgio Calderone, Software System Engineer with responsibility for control and scientific software, play key roles within the project. The picture is completed by the participation in the project of Paolo Di Marcantonio (Project Manager during phase A and current head of low-level software), Veronica Baldini and Antonio Sulich.