Overview of the Instrumentation for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument

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The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) has embarked on an ambitious five-year survey to explore the nature of dark energy with spectroscopy of 40 million galaxies and quasars. DESI will determine precise redshifts and employ the Baryon Acoustic Oscillation method to measure distances from the nearby universe to z > 3.5, as well as measure the growth of structure and probe potential modifications to general relativity. In this paper we describe the significant instrumentation we developed for the DESI survey. The new instrumentation includes a wide-field, 3.2-deg diameter prime-focus corrector that focuses the light onto 5020 robotic fiber positioners on the 0.812 m diameter, aspheric focal surface. The positioners and their fibers are divided among ten wedge-shaped petals. Each petal is connected to one of ten spectrographs via a contiguous, high-efficiency, nearly 50 m fiber cable bundle. The ten spectrographs each use a pair of dichroics to split the light into three channels that together record the light from 360 - 980 nm with a resolution of 2000 to 5000. We describe the science requirements, technical requirements on the instrumentation, and management of the project. DESI was installed at the 4-m Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak, and we also describe the facility upgrades to prepare for DESI and the installation and functional verification process. DESI has achieved all of its performance goals, and the DESI survey began in May 2021. Some performance highlights include RMS positioner accuracy better than 0.1", SNR per \sqrt{\AA} > 0.5 for a z > 2 quasar with flux 0.28e-17 erg/s/cm^2/A at 380 nm in 4000s, and median SNR = 7 of the [OII] doublet at 8e-17 erg/s/cm^2 in a 1000s exposure for emission line galaxies at z = 1.4 - 1.6. We conclude with highlights from the on-sky validation and commissioning of the instrument, key successes, and lessons learned. (abridged)
Original languageEnglish
Article number207
Number of pages62
JournalThe Astronomical Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2022


  • astro-ph.IM
  • astro-ph.CO
  • UKRI
  • STFC
  • ObsCos_highlight


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