Astronomical Instrumentation


VERITAS telescope

The University of Iowa is a collaborating institution on VERITAS, an  array of ground-based telescopes for gamma-ray astronomy located in Southern Arizona.

RESUN data acquisition module

The iBOB data acquisition module, built at CASPER labs at UC Berkeley,  a dual high 1.2 GHz 8 bit A/D system with onboard FPGA-based logic. We using several iBOBs as part of the RESUN search for UHE neutrinos.

CyXESS Rocket

Dr. McEntaffer with 2 members of the 36.224 CyXESS science team and a member of the Wallops Flight Facility team recovering a rocket payload at White Sands Missile Range

Rigel image of M42

This gorgeous image of star formation complex NGC 2224 was taken using the Rigel telescope by combining  L,G,B filters plus a narrowband H alpha filter. 

Professors Kaaret, McEntaffer, Mutel

Staff engineer: Ted Shultz 

Students:  Ryan Allured, Scott Griffiths, Tom Brantseg, Hannah Marlowe, Ian Spangenberg, Alyssa Grigsby, Scott Griffiths

VERITAS - Gamma-Ray Telescope Array

Prof. Kaaret

UI is a collaborating institution on the VERITAS array of ground-based telescopes for gamma-ray astronomy located in Southern Arizona.  Iowa built the VERITAS pointing monitors and is actively engaged in development of a next generation gamma-ray observatory, the Advanced Gamma-ray Imaging System (AGIS). 

X-Ray Sub-orbital rocket program

Prof. McEntaffer, students , staff engineer Ted Schultz

The X-ray suborbital rocket program currently concentrates on high resolution soft X-ray spectroscopy of diffuse sources.  We are collaborating with the University of Colorado on a series of 4 rocket flights taking place through 2012.  These suborbital rockets are launched from White Sands Missile Range and fly as high as 250 km into space allowing for ~6 minutes of observation.  The payload returns to the surface via reentry and a parachute.  The first of these payloads is named the Extended X-ray Off-plane Spectrometer (EXOS) and will fly on Oct. 5th, 2009 and again in early 2010.  The X-ray spectrometer will observe supernova remnants at various stages of evolution in X-ray emission.  These remnants include the Cygnus Loop, Vela, Puppis, and Vela Jr.  Characterization and comparison of the soft X-ray emission will lead to a more complete understanding of the evolution of supernova remnants and their interaction with the surrounding interstellar medium as well as shedding light on matter and energy feedback in the galaxy in general.  The University of Iowa is responsible for the fabrication, calibration and testing of the Gaseous Electron Multiplying (GEM) detectors onboard these flights.  EXOS will fly two such detectors with subsequent missions flying up to six GEMs.

The CyXESS sub-orbital rocket program is deigned to obtain high resolution spectroscopy in the soft X-ray bandpass (E < 2keV).  We design, fabricate, test and fly high resolution X-ray spectrographs for use on sub-orbital rocket payloads and as concept hardware for future large NASA missions such as the International X-ray Observatory and the Generation-X observatory.

Robotic Optical Telescope

Prof. Mutel

The University of Iowa was one of the first Universities to operate a robotic telescope primarily for the use of students, both for instruction and research. The present instrument was installed in May 2002, and consists of an  OMI design 37-cm f/14 Cassegrain reflector on an equatorial mount, 8-position filter wheel, and 9 megapixel CCD camera (FLI 09000). It is located at the Winer Observatory in southern Arizona and operated over the Internet using a web-based scheduler. Telescope control software is Talon, originally written by Elwood Downey, and modified by Kevin Ivarsen and Steven Ohmert. 

The telescope is scheduled more than 200 nights per year, with observing requests ranging from routine undergraduate laboratory projects to research projects such as a search for small comets, planetary searches around white dwarfs, and a supernova search in late-type spiral galaxies. More details can be found on the Iowa robotic telescope (Rigel) website

Copyright University of Iowa 2013