November 2013 • 2013PASP..125.1348M
Abstract • We present the design, construction, and commissioning results of ARCONS, the Array Camera for Optical to Near-IR Spectrophotometry. ARCONS is the first ground-based instrument in the optical through near-IR wavelength range based on Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (MKIDs). MKIDs are revolutionary cryogenic detectors, capable of detecting single photons and measuring their energy without filters or gratings, similar to an X-ray microcalorimeter. MKIDs are nearly ideal, noiseless photon detectors, as they do not suffer from read noise or dark current and have nearly perfect cosmic ray rejection. ARCONS is an Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) containing a lens-coupled 2024 pixel MKID array yielding a 20"x20" field of view, and has been deployed on the Palomar 200" and Lick 120" telescopes for 24 nights of observing. We present initial results showing that ARCONS and its MKID arrays are now a fully operational and powerful tool for astronomical observations.