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A thesis about the PANIC camera is awarded the 2020 MERAC prize in new technologies

conchiThe optical engineer Concepción Cárdenas Vázquez has been awarded the MERAC Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in New Technologies (Instrumental) by the European Astronomical Society (EAS)

The thesis encompasses the development of PANIC, an infrared, wide-field camera that operated and is being upgraded for the Calar Alto Observatory

FONDATION MERAC (Mobilising European Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology) and the European Astronomical Society (EAS) awards biyearly the MERAC prize to the best thesis developed in Europe, an award that seeks to promote innovative research in astrophysics and cosmology and support young researchers. The prize, 25,000 euros, in the category of New Technologies, Instrumental, has been awarded in 2020 to the thesis of Concepción Cárdenas "PANIC, a large field infrared camera for Calar Alto", developed at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC).

The thesis includes the complete development life of an astronomical instrument, from the conceptual design and the feasibility study to the final integration and verification, either in the laboratory as well as at the telescopes, following all the standard processes and exhaustive design revisions”, says Concepción Cárdenas, who is currently working at the Max-Plack Institut für Astronomie (MPIA), in Heidelberg (Germany), and who, on the occasion of the award, will present her thesis at one of the plenary sessions of the meeting of the European Astronomical Society that will take place in July this year.

Concepción Cárdenas Vázquez was already awarded the Third SEA Prize for Best Spanish PhD in Instrumentation, Computing and Technological Development in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2017-2018), given by the Spanish Astronomical Society (SEA).


The former mosaic of four detectors in the first version of PANIC has been replaced by a new monolithic detector. The first tests in laboratory look promising, showing a large detector nearly perfect in terms of cosmetic quality. The commissioning of PANIC-monolithic will take place during the summer 2020 at the Calar Alto Observatory; the renovated instrument should be available to the community just afterwards.


Concepción Cárdenas Vázquez thesis’ available at:

Calar Alto Observatory is one of the infrastructures that belong to the national map of Unique Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (Spanish acronym: ICTS), approved on November 6th, 2018, by the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Council


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