No matter how complex the problem, Serban only requires one explanation to capture the essence.Graduation committee - Prof.dr. B.R. Brandl, ir. G. Jakob, dr.ir. J.M. Kuiper, dr. S.M. Cazaux
In 2016, Breakthrough Initiatives and the European Southern Observatory signed an agreement to use the instrumentation available at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal observatory in Chile to investigate the presence of potentially habitable planets in the Alpha Centauri star system, the closest to the Sun. More specifically, the New Earths in the Alpha Cen Region (NEAR) experiment consisted in the upgrade of the VLT imager and spectrometer for the mid-infrared (VISIR) to improve its performance for the detection of Earth-like planets. The main goal of Serban’s graduation project was to complete the performance evaluation of part of the new hardware needed to provide the required sensitivity and high contrast imaging capabilities to VISIR, in particular a chopper system and a coronagraph. Following the results obtained within the thesis project, on-site installation, on-sky commissioning and observing campaign of NEAR were completed in the first half of 2019.