The Mid-Infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph

In Greek mythology, Metis was the spouse of Zeus and mother of Athena, goddess of wisdom. METIS is also the planned mid-infrared imager and spectrograph for the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), Europe’s next-generation ground-based telescope for optical and infrared (IR) wavelengths. Covering the L, M and N bands, METIS will offer imaging, coronagraphy and medium-resolution spectroscopy over the full wavelength range (3-13 microns), and high-resolution integral field spectroscopy in L and M bands (3-5 microns).

On May 14, 2024, ESO announced that METIS formally passed its Final Design Review! This is a huge achievement by both the consortium and ESO and marks an important milestone for the project. METIS now fully entered the manufacturing phase. Within ~1 year METIS will enter the system integration phase. METIS is planned to go to the telescope in 2028.

Extremely Large Telescope

METIS is one of the three first instruments for the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), and the only instrument to cover wavelengths beyond 3 microns. The phase-A conceptual study, which ran from May 2008 to December 2009 and led to the unique instrument concept, has been followed by a series of technology development projects. The Agreement for the design and construction of METIS with ESO was signed on 28 September 2015. METIS conducted its Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in May 2019, its Final Design Review (FDR) in November 2022 (system review) and November 2023 (science pipeline).

The METIS team

METIS is a collaboration of nine European astronomy organisations, each represented by one co-Investigator. The consortium currently consists of 158 members.

Design Concept

The instrument consists of two separate units, one for the imager and another for the spectrograph. It is – together with the AO wavefront sensor and the fore-optics – entirely encased in a cryostat to maintain the stable low temperatures required for good performance at mid-infrared wavelengths.


Investigating the physical structure and evolution of protoplanetary disks as well as the chemical composition of planet-forming material.

The METIS web app

The METIS web app application shows an animation of light following the optical path inside METIS for all scientific and some technical configurations of METIS. It also visualises how the motorised functions of METIS are used during preset and in the observing sequence.

Image credits for this page:

First section: ELT concept by ESO/L. Calçada; METIS fireworks animation produced by Dušan Bettonvil.

Second section: Artist’s impression of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system by ESO/N. Bartmann/

Second section: ESO signs largest ever ground-based astronomy contract for E-ELT dome and telescope structure by ESO/L. Calçada/ACe Consortium