The opto-mechanical design of the GMT-consortium large earth finder (G-CLEF)

Mark Mueller, Daniel Baldwin, Jacob Bean, Henry Bergner, Bruce Bigelow, Moo Young Chun, Jeffrey Crane, Jeff Foster, Gabor Furész, Thomas Gauron, Dani Guzman, Edward Hertz, Andrés Jordán, Kang Min Kim, Kenneth McCracken, Timothy Norton, Mark Ordway, Chan Park, Sang Park, William A. PodgorskiAndrew Szentgyorgyi, Alan Uomoto, In Soo Yuk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The GMT-Consortium Large Earth Finder (G-CLEF) is a fiber fed, optical echelle spectrograph that has been selected as a first light instrument for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) currently under construction at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile's Atacama desert region. We designed G-CLEF as a general-purpose echelle spectrograph with precision radial velocity (PRV) capability used for exoplanet detection. The radial velocity (RV) precision goal of GCLEF is 10 cm/sec, necessary for detection of Earth-sized planets orbiting stars like our Sun in the habitable zone. This goal imposes challenging stability requirements on the optical mounts and the overall spectrograph support structures. Stability in instruments of this type is typically affected by changes in temperature, orientation, and air pressure as well as vibrations caused by telescope tracking. For these reasons, we have chosen to enclose G-CLEF's spectrograph in a thermally insulated, vibration isolated vacuum chamber and place it at a gravity invariant location on GMT's azimuth platform. Additional design constraints posed by the GMT telescope include: a limited space envelope, a thermal emission ceiling, and a maximum weight allowance. Other factors, such as manufacturability, serviceability, available technology and budget are also significant design drivers. All of the previously listed considerations must be managed while ensuring that performance requirements are achieved. In this paper, we discuss the design of G-CLEF's optical mounts and support structures including technical choices made to minimize the system's sensitivity to thermal gradients. A more general treatment of the properties of G-CLEF can be found elsewhere in these proceedings1. We discuss the design of the vacuum chamber which houses the irregularly shaped optical bench and optics while conforming to a challenging space envelope on GMT's azimuth platform. We also discuss the design of G-CLEF's insulated enclosure and thermal control systems which maintain the spectrograph at milli-Kelvin level stability while simultaneously limiting the maximum thermal emission into the telescope dome environment. Finally, we discuss G-CLEF's front-end assembly and fiber-feed system as well as other interface challenges presented by the telescope, enclosure and neighboring instrumentation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V
EditorsSuzanne K. Ramsay, Ian S. McLean, Hideki Takami
ISBN (Electronic)9780819496157
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 22 Jun 201426 Jun 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V


  • Echelle spectrograph
  • G-CLEF
  • GMT
  • optical mounts
  • precision radial velocity
  • vacuum chamber


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