CCAT-prime will be a 6-meter cosmology and astrophysics telescope operating at submillimeter to millimeter wavelengths, located at an elevation of 5600 meters (18,400 ft) on Cerro Chajnantor in the Atacama Desert in Chile. CCAT-prime’s optical design is optimized for a wide field of view in order to accommodate next-generation, large-format cameras, and enable large-scale galaxy and molecular cloud surveys. The telescope will build on novel crossed-Dragone optical design proposed by Mike Niemack, and a new azimuth-elevation mount proposed by Project Engineer Steve Parshley. CCAT-prime will be capable of accommodating > 105 detectors and will be able to map the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) roughly 10 times faster than current CMB telescopes. Once built, CCAT-prime will support multiple instruments and observations will be fully remote controlled. A consortium of U.S., German and Canadian academic institutions, led by Cornell University, are overseeing the project.

My work for CCAT-prime is focused on mechanical and cryogenic design for the CCAT-prime first-light instrument, Prime-Cam (E. M. Vavagiakis et al. 2018. “Prime-Cam: A first-light instrument for the CCAT-prime telescope,” Proc. SPIE, arXiv:1807.00058). Our work with the cryogenics group for Simons Observatory will help to inform design decisions for Prime-Cam.

Recently, I have designed a smaller instrument, ModCam, which will house one optics module, and will be used as an optics module testbed and/or first light instrument. I plan to be testing it in early 2020.


The ModCam cryostat


The Prime-Cam cryostat

Recent Publications:

S. Choi et al. (including E. M. Vavagiakis) 2019. “Sensitivity of the Prime-Cam Instrument on the CCAT-prime Telescope,” Journal of Low Temperature Physics (in review), arXiv:1908.10451.

N. F. Cothard et al. (including E. M. Vavagiakis) 2019. “The Design of The CCAT-Prime Epoch of Reionization Spectrometer Instrument,” Journal of Low Temperature Physics (in review).

The CCAT-prime Collaboration (including E. M. Vavagiakis) 2019. “The CCAT-Prime Submillimeter Observatory,” Astro2020 APC White Paper, arXiv:1909.02587.

E. M. Vavagiakis et al. 2018. “Prime-Cam: A first-light instrument for the CCAT-prime telescope,” Proc. SPIE, arXiv:1807.00058.

S. C. Parshley, M. D. Niemack, R. Hills, S. R. Dicker et al. (including E. M. Vavagiakis) 2018. “The optical design of the six-meter CCAT-prime and Simons Observatory telescopes,” Proc. SPIE 10700, arXiv:1807.06678.

S. C. Parshley, J. Kronshage, et al. (including E. M. Vavagiakis) 2018. “CCAT-prime: a novel telescope for sub-millimeter astronomy,” Proc. SPIE 10700, arXiv:1807.06675.

G. J. Stacey et al. (including E. M. Vavagiakis) 2018. “CCAT-Prime: science with an ultra-widefield submillimeter observatory on Cerro Chajnantor,” Proc. SPIE 10700, arXiv:1807.04354.

Learn more about CCAT-prime:

CCAT-prime’s Public Webpage

CCAT-prime Press Release

Crossed-Dragone Optical Design


Cornell University CCAT-prime group in Mike Niemack’s lab

Header Image Credit: S. Radford