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Astron. Astrophys. 343, L1-L4 (1999)

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2. Science verification policy

The goals that ESO intended to reach with these SV observations were manifold: i) experiment a first scientific observing run of the VLT, including the first end to end use of the VLT Science Data Flow (Silva & Quinn 1997, Quinn 1996), ii) offer science grade VLT data and involve ESO users in their scientific analysis at an early stage, iii) foster an early scientific return from the VLT, and iv) gather feedback on the telescope performance and operational procedures.

Within this framework, it was the aim of the Science Verification program to submit the VLT-UT1 to the scrutiny implied by actual scientific observations. A set of diverse SV programmes was planned, with observations in each programme being sufficiently complete to achieve a well defined scientific goal. Therefore, SV was not designed to test the technical specifications of the VLT, such as e.g. the VLT Level 1 Requirements, as this was the the primary task of the Telescope Commissioning. The SV observations were instead designed from science objectives asking for the most demanding observations with the available instrument, the VLT Test Camera. An attempt was made to include a wide range of scientific observations so as to allow the involvement of as many astronomers in the process as possible. The selection thus included a broad range of targets from the solar system to the Hubble Deep Field South (Table 1). Despite all attempts for fairness, the final selection may have been biased, as possibly any other conceivable choice. A further selection had to be made at the telescope to match the actual observing conditions to the observational requirements, which resulted in a few SV programmes not getting data at all.


Table 1. Targets observed during UT1 SV.
a The narrow band filters are given with their central wavelength (in nm) and the band width (in nm).

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: March 1, 1999