The ECLAIRs instrument has produced its first image.
After years of development by the APC, CEA, IRAP and CNES teams, and after several months of integration during which the various elements of the telescope were progressively assembled around the detection plane, the ECLAIRs instrument has just produced its first image. This is a major step in the characterisation of the instrument.
This image was obtained with the telescope installed in a vacuum tank, so that the detection plane could be cooled to -25 °C. Two radioactive sources installed in the tank illuminated the detector through the mask. Outside the tank, the calculator in charge of the camera control and data acquisition will also allow the detection of gamma-ray bursts when the instrument is in flight.
This first image shows the coded mask shadow projected onto the detection plane. As the sources are placed a few tens of centimetres away and not at infinity, the mask is magnified and only its central part is imaged.
This image also marks the start of the final calibration phase of the instrument. This phase, which mobilises all the technical and scientific teams, some of them working 3×8 and 7 days a week, will continue until the end of May.