The Magellanic system represents the nearest template for the study of stellar populations and galaxy interactions. Its low metallicity and nearby distance are key issues to exploit the unique VMC data. This survey aims to obtain YJKs band photometry across the system down to Ks=20.3 (Vega) at S/N=10. This sensitivity corresponds to the bottom of the red giant branch field stellar population and allows us to determine the global spatially resolved star formation history with unprecedented quality and to construct a three-dimensional map of the system. A wide-area encompassing the D25 as well as major features delineated by the distribution of stars and HI gas, will both trace the structure of the galaxies and signatures of past and present interactions. Contemporary optical and kinematic observations of comparable sensitivity will provide the community with a superior database for future studies of the system and will give us an excellent insight as to what has happened elsewhere in the Universe.
The VISTA telescope is a 4-m near-infrared optimised telescope equipped with a large array of 16 infrared detectors that fill about a 1.5 square degree field. VISTA observations for the VMC survey started in November 2009 and ended in October 2018.