The project NAIR "Novel Astronomical Instrumentation based on photonic light Reformating" is a DFG-funded proposed collaboration between Landessternwarte Heidelberg (Andreas Quirrenbach, Robert Harris), Leibniz-Institut for Astrophysik Potsdam (Roger Haynes, Stefano Minardi) and Universität zu Köln (Lucas Labadie) to exploit the recognized potential of photonics solutions for a radically new approach to astronomical instrumentation for optical to infrared high resolution spectroscopy and high angular resolution imaging. In the last ten years, new paths have been opened with successful on-sky experiments and operational instruments that make use of photonics devices. With the increasing maturity of astrophotonics concepts, unique functionalities are developed to route and manipulate light beams that are not at reach with classical bulk optics solutions.
The NAIR project brings together experts in the field of instrumentation and astronomical photonics to demonstrate and improve the proof-of-concept of so-called remapping functions for spectroscopy and imaging. Remapping functions allow the rearrangement of a multimode spectrograph's PSF into a one-dimensional diffraction limited slit to offer maximum resolving power, or the efficient rearrangement of the full pupil of large telescope to enable true diffraction-limit interferometric spectro-imaging. The NAIR project will focus on investigating new optimal designs for coherent and incoherent remappers, conducting first technological on-sky tests on small- and medium-size telescopes and extending these concepts towards longer wavelengths (K, L bands) where they are currently unavailable.
The NAIR project is expected to lead to important technological breakthroughs that could be uniquely implemented in the future at the time of the calls for second- generation instrumentation for the E-ELT.