Astronomical observation depends on developments in instrumentation. The discovery of the 1st exoplanet orbiting a star, 51 Pegasi b, was the result of the development of ultra-stable spectrographs capable of detecting the planet’s tiny perturbations of its star.

The Institute team has designed and developed a number of instruments, mainly for observations in the infrared domain (MONICACPAPIRSIMONWIRCAMTRIDENTCFHTIR). It is also currently participating in the development of many instruments:

  • NIRISS: 1 of the 4 instruments aboard the JWST space telescope, to be used starting in 2018.
  • SPIRou: a spectrograph for detecting Earth-size planets around the coldest stars in the solar neighbourhood. SPIRou will be used on the CFHT telescope starting in 2017.
  • NIRPS: a spectrograph that is similar to SPIRou, but that will be installed in the southern hemisphere, on the 3.6m ESO telescope, in Chile, in 2019.
  • PESTO: an instrument that will enable the detection of moons around giant planets. The instrument will be used at the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic (OMM) starting in 2014.
  • GPI: an instrument that allows the detection and characterization of giant planets through direct imaging. It is on Gemini South since 2014.

Alongside these developments, researchers at the Institute continue to use a number of existing instruments, including the SIMON spectrograph and the CPAPIR wide-field camera, both of them in use at the OMM. The two instruments were designed as part of the doctoral dissertations of Loïc Albert and Étienne Artigau. They went into service in 2004 and 2006, respectively, and are regularly updated by the Institute team.