The pursuit of science including radiometric studies ranging from the cosmic microwave background to objects in our own solar system, particle astrophysics, cosmic rays, and gravitation requires not only functioning telescopes and facilities but also sensitive back-end instrumentation. The Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics hosts an entire floor of laboratory space that is allocated to various groups in experimental physics and astronomy where state-of-the-art instrumentation is being built. Each of these labs is staffed by engineers and technicians who work alongside faculty,research associates, and students.
- The Caltech Optical Observatories (COO) conduct work relevant to the current operations of and future developments at the Palomar, Keck, and Thirty-Meter telescopes; adaptive optics is a particular area of expertise.
- The Caltech Radio Astronomy Laboratory (CRAL) hosts experimental work related to cm-wave equipment at the Owens Valley and Chajnantor facilities, including array spectrometers.
- The submillimeter lab is where instruments are built and tested for the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and where development related to CCAT is ongoing.
- The Observational Cosmology (ObsCos) lab builds hardware for deployment at the South Pole.
- The Space Astrophysics Lab (SAL) works on instrumentation for both UV space missions and ground-based optical telescopes.
- The Space Radiation Lab (SRL) is involved in the development of hard X-ray detectors and grazing incidence focusing optics, as well as balloon and satellite payloads. SRL also develops particle detectors for balloons and satellites.
- The Dark Matter lab is developing new cryogenic particle dark matter detectors.
Graduate students can be involved in any of these groups.
In addition, there is close coupling of many Cahill faculty with engineering and technical development at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), especially in the areas of detectors, interferometry, and adaptive optics. Some graduate students spend part of their time at JPL.
Cahill also hosts a teaching lab that is used mainly for undergraduate course work.