March 2, 2017



Schematic of the Fireball payload

The Fireball payload is optimized for spectral imaging of faint and diffuse sources in the ultraviolet. It requires a pointing accuracy and stability of the order of one arcsecond, achieved by the combined action of the pointed gondola and a fine-pointing system integral to the payload, which comprises:

  • a 1.3-metre-diameter siderostat (flat mirror)
  • a 1-metre-diameter parabolic mirror with a focal ratio of f/2.5
  • a multi-object spectrograph

The siderostat at the bottom of the gondola conveys the observed image of the sky to the parabolic mirror. It is mounted on a dual-axis pivot assembly to allow pointing in elevation and fine cross-elevation control to assure the required degree of precision during observations.


Fireball spectrograph

The spectrograph comprises an optical train that shapes the light beam and conveys it to a set of slit masks that can be controlled from the ground. A diffraction grating (grism) then splits the light diffracted by the detector’s slits.

The detector is a delta-doped electron multiplying charge coupled device (EMCCD) fabricated by e2V with a UV anti-reflective coating provided by CalTech to obtain maximum quantum efficiency (QE) in Fireball’s wavelength window.

The spectrograph assembly sits inside a dewar. The detector is cooled to 150 K by a cryocooler to reduce electronic noise to a minimum.


Dewar housing the spectrograph and mounted on its rotation stage

The dewar is mounted on a rotation stage designed to compensate for field rotation during observations and for pendulum oscillations of the gondola platform.

The visible balance of the light from the telescope beam goes to a dichroic mirror and feeds a fine sensor with a CCD camera for use in the fine-pointing loop.

Main payload features and performance:

  • Bandpass: 200 – 208 nm
  • Field of view: 10 x 20 arcmin2
  • Angular resolution: 5 arcsec
  • Spectral resolution: 2,250
  • Detector array: 1,024 x 2,048 pixels
  • Pixel size: 13.5 microns
  • uantum efficiency in bandpass: 70%
  • Sensitivity: 5,000 LU / 20 arcsec diameter @ S/N=5 per hour
  • Boresight stability: 1 arcsec rms perpendicular to optical axis, 3 arcmin rms along optical axis (field rotation).