MATISSE has been patiently constructed in a basement of the Nice Observatory by an international consortium over the last decade: 5 years to design the instrument and 5 years to develop, assemble and test its different elements (infrared detectors, cryostats, optical block made up specifically of 200 small motor-controlled mirrors …).
MATISSE (Multi AperTure mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment) will be transported at the start of October, 2017, to the Atacama Desert in Chile, to be installed in the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Its mission will be to observe the "protoplanetary" discs of gas and dust which surround young stars and which are "the building blocks " at the origin of the formation of planets.
Eight to ten months of performance validation in the field will then be required to prepare the instrument for researchers.
The instrument will enable observation of the sky at a level of detail unequalled in the middle infrared range (wavelengths of 3 - 13 microns).