VIRUS: production of a massively replicated 33k fiber integral field spectrograph for the upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope
The Visible Integral-field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (VIRUS) consists of a baseline build of 150 identical spectrographs (arrayed as 75 units, each with a pair of spectrographs) fed by 33,600 fibers, each 1.5 arcsec diameter, deployed over the 22 arcminute field of the upgraded 10 m Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET). The goal is to deploy 82 units. VIRUS has a fixed bandpass of 350-550 nm and resolving power R~700. VIRUS is the first example of industrial-scale replication applied to optical astronomy and is capable of spectral surveys of large areas of sky. This approach, in which a relatively simple, inexpensive, unit spectrograph is copied in large numbers, offers significant savings of engineering effort, cost, and schedule when compared to traditional instruments. The main motivator for VIRUS is to map the evolution of dark energy for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) using 0.8M Lyman-α emitting galaxies as tracers. The full VIRUS array is due to be deployed by early 2014 and will provide a powerful new facility instrument for the HET, well suited to the survey niche of the telescope. VIRUS and HET will open up wide-field surveys of the emission-line universe for the first time. We present the production design and current status of VIRUS.