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by MICHEL-DANSAC LEO, PECONTAL ARLETTE - published on , updated on

The Scientific Computing department at CRAL is currently involved in the following instrumental projects:

ESO-EELT/HARMONI is an integral field spectrograph to be installed on the future E-ELT telescope. It is one of the first light instrument. CRAL is responsible for the scientific software which includes the instrument numerical simulator and the data reduction software. CRAL also leads the software system engineering tasks of the HARMONI project.

ESO-VISTA/4MOST is a multi-object spectrograph dedicated to the VISTA telescope (ESO-Paranal). Our department is supporting the optical teams by providing modelization routines for the Line Spread Function (LSF) and computing criteria used to check compliance with specifications. The department starts now to be involved in the AIT phase (support for electronic, software and detectors).


The Scientific Computing department at CRAL was formerly involved in the following major instrumental and scientific projects:

  • Instrumental Projects

ESO-VLT/MUSE is an integral field spectrograph installed in Chile at Paranal on one of the ESO large telescopes (UT4) since January 2014. It is offered to the community since October of the same year. The CRAL, through the Scientific Computing department, participated in this project by assuming the following responsibilities:
- software project management,
- instrument numerical model,
- some pieces of the control software (fast reconstruction of the field of view, star extraction, ...),
- observation preparation software,
- participation to the tests both in Europe and Chile,
- automatisation of the optical alignment tool and development of the associated software.

ESA-JWST/NIRSpec is one of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) instruments which will be launched in 2018. Through a formal contract with EADS-Astrium (now Airbus Defense & Space), the CRAL developed the instrument performance simulator. This software was delivered in 2011. The CRAL is currently upgrading this software on behalf of ESA.


  • Scientific Projects

The MUSICOS project is an ERC advanced Grant led by the MUSE Principal Investigator. This project brings together scientists and postdocs from 7 laboratories and focus on the data analysis of MUSE data. It aims at better understanding the process of galaxy evolution. Our department participates in the reduction and analysis of the data and provides a dedicated python framework (MPDAF) to the scientists in order to facilitate the data analysis.

extraSim is a broad project around the development of numerical simulations for the formation and evolution of galaxies. It is funded by the Labex LIO and various ANR projects (HORIZON, BINGO!, OREAGAN, FOGHAR, ORAGE, 3DGasFlows). It includes the following scientific projects:
- The RASCAS project (radiative scattering in simulations)
- The SPHINX project (RHD simulations of galaxies during the epoch of reionization)
Our department participates in the development of codes (RAMSES, RASCAS, RATS), in the production of simulations, and in the administration of the CCF cluster.

The arthUs - advances in the research on theories of the dark Universe - project is an ERC Advanced Grant led by Prof. Thomas Buchert. This project of the GALPAC team in theoretical cosmology at CRAL studies the effect of inhomogeneities in relativistic cosmology on average properties of cosmological models, related to the dark energy and dark matter problems. Our department participates in the development of integral-geometrical tools (Minkowski functionals) directed towards the robust morphological analysis of galaxy catalogues and Cosmic Microwave Background data.