Raman LIDARs for the atmospheric calibration along the line-of-sight of the Cherenkov Telescope Array
2019 July 22
The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is the next generation ground-based observatory for gamma-ray astronomy at very-high energies. Employing more than 100 (north and south sites) Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres, it was designed to reach unprecedented sensitivity and energy resolution. Understanding and correcting for systematic biases on the absolute energy scale and instrument response functions will be a cru- cial issue for the performance of CTA. The Montpellier group and the Spanish/Italian/Slovenian collaboration are currently building two Raman LIDAR prototypes for the online atmospheric cal- ibration along the line-of-sight of the CTA. Requirements for such a solution include the ability to characterize aerosol extinction at two wavelengths to distances up to 30 km with an accuracy better than 5%, within exposure time scales of about a minute, steering capabilities and close interaction with the CTA array control and data acquisition system as well as other auxiliary in- struments. Our Raman LIDARs have design features that make them different from those used in atmospheric science and are characterized by large collecting mirrors (∼2.5 m2), liquid light- guides that collect the light at the focal plane and transport it to the readout system, reduced acquisition time and highly precise Raman spectrometers. The Raman LIDARs will participate in a cross-calibration and characterization campaign of the atmosphere at the CTA North site at La Palma, together with other site characterization instruments. After a one-year test period there, an in-depth evaluation of the solutions adopted by the two projects will lead to a final Raman LIDAR design proposal for both CTA sites.