The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will be the next generation facility to investigate the very high-energy gamma-ray emission from a large variety of celestial sources.
The full array, installed at two sites, one in the northern and one in the southern hemisphere, will start to operate at the beginning of the next decade. In the meantime, a few telescope prototypes have been developed and some pre-production CTA telescopes have been planned.
Within this framework, the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) is leading the ASTRI project, whose aim is two-fold. The ASTRI Collaboration has successfully developed and installed in Sicily a prototype of the CTA small-sized telescopes (SST), according to an innovative dual-mirror (2M) optical solution and equipped with a silicon-based photo-detector Cherenkov camera. Moreover, INAF is leading the development of one of the mini-arrays of pre-production CTA telescopes composed of at least nine dual-mirror telescopes and proposed to be installed at the CTA southern site in 2018.
The ASTRI mini-array of SST pre-production CTA telescopes will be able to both verify some of the adopted innovative solutions, such as the wide field of view, and to investigate sources emitting at energies from a few TeV up to hundreds of TeV.
We discuss the preliminary results obtained by the ASTRI SST-2M prototype during its ongoing commissioning phase, the expected Monte Carlo performance of the ASTRI mini-array of SST pre-production CTA telescopes, and provide an overview of the scientific topics that can be addressed both, as a stand-alone mini-array and in synergy with other pre-production CTA telescopes.