The European Large Area ISO Survey – I. Goals, definition and observations
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AuthorRowan-Robinson, Michael; Alexander, David M.; Almaini, Omar; Balcells, Marc; Baker, Amanda C.; Barcons Jáuregui, Xavier; Barden, Marco; Bellas-Velidis, Ioannis; Cabrera Guerra, Fernando; Carballo Fidalgo, Ruth; Césarsky, Catherine J.; Ciliegi, Paolo; Clements, David L. Z.; Crockett, Hans; Danese, Luigi; Dapergolas, Anastasios; Drolias, Basileios; González Serrano, José Ignacio; Eaton, Nick; [et al.]
We describe the European Large Area ISO Survey (ELAIS). ELAIS was the largest single Open Time project conducted by ISO, mapping an area of 12 deg2 at 15 μm with ISOCAM and at 90 μm with ISOPHOT. Secondary surveys in other ISO bands were undertaken by the ELAIS team within the fields of the primary survey, with 6 deg2 being covered at 6.7 μm and 1 deg2 at 175 μm.
This paper discusses the goals of the project and the techniques employed in its construction, as well as presenting details of the observations carried out, the data from which are now in the public domain. We outline the ELAIS "preliminary analysis" which led to the detection of over 1000 sources from the 15 and 90-μm surveys (the majority selected at 15 μm with a flux limit of ∼3 mJy), to be fed into a ground-based follow-up campaign, as well as a programme of photometric observations of detected sources using both ISOCAM and ISOPHOT.
We detail how the ELAIS survey complements other ISO surveys in terms of depth and areal coverage, and show that the extensive multi-wavelength coverage of the ELAIS fields resulting from our concerted and on-going follow-up programme has made these regions amongst the best studied areas of their size in the entire sky, and, therefore, natural targets for future surveys. This paper accompanies the release of extremely reliable subsets of the "preliminary analysis" products. Subsequent papers in this series will give further details of our data reduction techniques, reliability and completeness estimates and present the 15- and 90-μm number counts from the "preliminary analysis", while a further series of papers will discuss in detail the results from the ELAIS "final analysis", as well as from the follow-up programme.