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  • richardmitnick 4:54 pm on February 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT, the revolutionary five mirror system, The unique mirror system of the Giant Magellan Telescope   

    From European Southern Observatory: “ELT Tertiary Mirror Takes Shape” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From European Southern Observatory

    31 January 2020

    Bárbara Ferreira
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6670
    Cell: +49 151 241 664 00
    Email: pio@eso.org

    ESO/E-ELT, 39 meter telescopeto be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

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    M3 blank at Safran Reosc for final polishing.

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    Rendering of ELT’s tertiary mirror, the so-called M3. Credit: ESO (L. Calçada)/SENER

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    This diagram shows the novel 5-mirror optical system of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). Before reaching the science instruments the light is first reflected from the telescope’s giant concave 39-metre segmented primary mirror (M1), it then bounces off two further 4-metre-class mirrors, one convex (M2) and one concave (M3). The final two mirrors (M4 and M5) form a built-in adaptive optics system to allow extremely sharp images to be formed at the final focal plane.Contracts for the casting of the M2 and M3 mirrors, their cells and sensors for the M1 segments were awarded at a ceremony at ESO’s Garching Headquarters in January 2017. Credit: ESO

    Each of the mirrors on the ELT presents a significant technological challenge, with extreme precision required at each production stage to ensure flawless optical quality. The German company SCHOTT produced the mirror blank for M3 — a cast block of a glass-ceramic material known as ZerodurⓇ measuring more than four metres from edge to edge and weighing in at over three tonnes. After casting and machining the M3 blank to its approximate shape, SCHOTT delivered the mirror to Safran Reosc, who will now grind and polish it to a precision of 15 nanometres across the entire optical surface.

    M3 is a notable feature of the ELT. Most large telescopes, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, use just two curved mirrors to form an image, with a small, flat, tertiary mirror sometimes introduced to divert the light to a convenient focus.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    However, in the ELT the tertiary mirror also has a curved surface, as the use of three curved mirrors delivers a better image quality over a larger field of view than would be possible with a two-mirror design. This design will allow the ELT to image the night sky with unprecedented quality.

    The five mirrors on the ELT all have different shapes, sizes and roles. The primary, M1, is the most spectacular, a giant 39-metre concave mirror made up of 798 hexagonal segments, which will collect light from the night sky and reflect it to the secondary mirror, M2. Measuring 4.2 metres across and hanging above M1, M2 will be the largest secondary mirror ever employed on a telescope, as well as the largest convex mirror ever produced. It will reflect light back down to M3, which in turn will relay it to an adaptive flat mirror (M4) above it. This fourth mirror, which will be the largest adaptive mirror ever made, will adjust its shape a thousand times a second to correct for distortions caused by atmospheric turbulence. M5, a flat tiltable mirror, will then stabilise the image and send it to the instruments.

    See the full article here .

    This is great, but the Giant Magellan Telescope [GMT] will ultimately be the largest optical telescope in the world with a new precise construction advantage over the E-ELT and the Thirty Meter Telescope:

    The GMT has a unique design that offers several advantages. It is a segmented mirror telescope that employs seven of today’s largest stiff monolith mirrors as segments. Six off-axis 8.4 meter or 27-foot segments surround a central on-axis segment, forming a single optical surface 24.5 meters, or 80 feet, in diameter with a total collecting area of 368 square meters. The GMT will have a resolving power 10 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT project is the work of a distinguished international consortium of leading universities and science institutions.

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    How will it work?

    Light from the edge of the universe will first reflect off of the seven primary mirrors, then reflect again off of the seven smaller secondary mirrors, and finally, down through the center primary mirror to the advanced CCD (charge coupled device) imaging cameras. There, the concentrated light will be measured to determine how far away objects are and what they are made of.

    The GMT primary mirrors are made at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab at the University of Arizona in Tucson. They are a marvel of modern engineering and glassmaking; each segment is curved to a very precise shape and polished to within a wavelength of light—approximately one-millionth of an inch. Although the GMT mirrors will represent a much larger array than any telescope, the total weight of the glass is far less than one might expect. This is accomplished by using a honeycomb mold, whereby the finished glass is mostly hollow. The glass mold is placed inside a giant rotating oven where it is “spin cast,” giving the glass a natural parabolic shape. This greatly reduces the amount of grinding required to shape the glass and also reduces weight. Finally, since the giant mirrors are essentially hollow, they can be cooled with fans to help equalize them to the night air temperature, thus minimizing distortion from heat.

    One of the most sophisticated engineering aspects of the telescope is what is known as “adaptive optics.” The telescope’s secondary mirrors are actually flexible. Under each secondary mirror surface, there are hundreds of actuators that will constantly adjust the mirrors to counteract atmospheric turbulence. These actuators, controlled by advanced computers, will transform twinkling stars into clear steady points of light. It is in this way that the GMT will offer images that are ten times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope’s.

    Much less image stitching at the GMT

    Giant Magellan Telescope, 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Other large ground-based telescopes—such as the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) planned for construction on the volcano Mauna Kea in Hawaii and the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) which will live to the north of GMT in Chile—will have even larger primary mirrors than the Giant Magellan Telescope. These two telescopes, however, will use hundreds of hexagonal mirror segments that are each about a meter and a half across (492 segments for the TMT and 798 for the EMT), rather than seven gargantuan monolithic mirrors like GMT.

    As a result, more gaps will exist in the light collecting areas of the TMT and ELT. The light will need to bounce around more before it reaches the instruments, and adaptive optics algorithms will be required to stitch everything together to a greater extent than with GMT, which can use a backup secondary mirror that is rigid to conduct observations while its flexible adaptive optics system is being cleaned and maintenanced.


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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre EEuropean Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO La Silla HELIOS (HARPS Experiment for Light Integrated Over the Sun)

    ESO/HARPS at La Silla

    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at Cerro LaSilla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    MPG/ESO 2.2 meter telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

    ESO/Cerro LaSilla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    2009 ESO VLTI Interferometer image, Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).

    ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

    ESO/NTT at Cerro La Silla, Chile, at an altitude of 2400 metres

    ESO VLT Survey telescope

    Part of ESO’s Paranal Observatory, the VISTA Telescope observes the brilliantly clear skies above the Atacama Desert of Chile. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    ESO APEXESO/MPIfR APEX high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region, at an altitude of over 4,800 m (15,700 ft)at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO Speculoos telescopes four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes at ESO Paranal Observatory 2635 metres 8645 ft above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO ExTrA telescopes at Cerro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres

    A novel gamma ray telescope under construction on Mount Hopkins, Arizona. a large project known as the Cherenkov Telescope Array, composed of hundreds of similar telescopes to be situated in the Canary Islands and Chile. The telescope on Mount Hopkins will be fitted with a prototype high-speed camera, assembled at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and capable of taking pictures at a billion frames per second. Credit: Vladimir Vassiliev

     
  • richardmitnick 7:59 am on December 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Will the United States Lose the Universe?", , , , , ESO E-ELT, , , Mount Wilson Observatory-60-inch Hale telescope and 100-inch Hooker telescope built in 1917 where Edwin Hubble discover that the universe is expanding, , ,   

    From The New York Times: “Will the United States Lose the Universe?” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Dec. 23, 2019
    Dennis Overbye

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    A Supermoon, or perigee moon, rises behind the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, northeast of Los Angeles on July 12, 2014. The observatory houses the 60-inch Hale telescope, built in 1908, and the, formerly world’s largest, 100-inch Hooker telescope built in 1917.Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

    For more than a century, American astronomers have held bragging rights as observers of the cosmos. But that dominance may soon slip away.

    The United States is about to lose the universe.

    It wouldn’t be quite the same as, say, losing China to communism in the 1940s. No hostile ideologies or forces are involved. But much is at stake: American intellectual, technical and economic might, cultural pedigree and the cosmic bragging rights that have been our nation’s for the last century.

    In 1917, the 100-inch Hooker telescope went into operation on Mount Wilson in California, and Edwin Hubble eventually used it to discover that the universe is expanding.

    Mt Wilson 100 inch Hooker Telescope Interior

    Edwin Hubble looking through a 100-inch Hooker telescope at Mount Wilson in Southern California, 1929 discovers the Universe is Expanding

    Until very recently, the mightiest telescopes on Earth have been on American mountaintops like Palomar, Kitt Peak and Mauna Kea. They revealed the Big Bang, black holes and quasars.

    Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, Altitude 1,713 m (5,620 ft), located in San Diego County, California, United States

    Kitt Peak National Observatory of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers 55 mi west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

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    Some of the observatories on Mauna Kea [Credit: Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii]

    But no more. In 2025 the European Southern Observatory, a multinational treaty organization akin to CERN but looking outward instead of inward, will invite the first light into a telescope that will dwarf all others. The European Extremely Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal in Chile will have a primary light-gathering mirror 39 meters in diameter, making it 13 times more powerful than any telescope now working and more sharp-eyed than the iconic Hubble Space Telescope.

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    The European goliath will be able to see the glow of planets orbiting other stars and peer into the black hearts of faraway galaxies. Who knows what else it might bring into view.

    There are two American-led telescope projects that could compete with the European giant, if they are ever built: the Thirty Meter Telescope, slated for construction on Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, and the Giant Magellan on Cerro Las Campanas, in Chile. But both are mired in financial difficulties and political controversies, and their completion, if it happens, is at least a decade away.

    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed and now approved for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    Giant Magellan Telescope, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory in the southern Atacama Desert of Chile in the Atacama Region approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of the city of La Serena,near the southern end and over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Work on the Thirty Meter Telescope, or T.M.T., has been stalled for years by a protest movement arguing that decades of telescope building on Mauna Kea have polluted and desecrated a mountain that is sacred to Polynesian culture, and have violated the rights of native Hawaiians. The team behind the project has vowed to move it to the Canary Islands if it can’t go forward in Hawaii.

    Both projects are hundreds of millions of dollars short of the financing they need to build their telescopes. Without them, American astronomers, accustomed to V.I.P. seating in observations of the universe, could be largely consigned to the cosmic bleachers in years to come. Early next year, probably in late February, representatives of the two telescope projects will appear before a blue-ribbon panel of the National Academy of Sciences plead for help.

    The panel is part of the so-called Decadal Survey, in which the astronomy community ranks its priorities for spending federal money. Congress and agencies like the National Science Foundation traditionally take their cues from the survey’s recommendations. A high ranking could shake loose money from the National Science Foundation, which has traditionally funded ground-based observatories.

    Without the National Academy’s endorsement, the telescopes face an uphill struggle to reach completion. Even with an endorsement, the way will be tough. The Trump Administration appears to be trying to eliminate the National Science Foundation’s funding for large facilities such as observatories. So much for successes like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, which detected colliding black holes. Luckily for now, Congress has resisted these cuts.

    The telescopes are not cheap. They will need at least a billion more dollars between them to get to the finish line, maybe more. So far, the team behind the Giant Magellan Telescope has raised about $600 million from its partners and seeks an equivalent amount from the National Science Foundation.

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    Telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Gov. Ige says he and other state employees have received death threats amid the heated debate over building a giant telescope on the state’s highest peak.Credit…Caleb Jones/Associated Press

    Visible here are Keck telescopes, NAOJ Subaru and NASA Infrared Telescope facility:

    Keck Observatory, operated by Caltech and the University of California, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA.4,207 m (13,802 ft), above sea level,

    NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    NASA Infrared Telescope facility Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    The T.M.T. collaboration, now officially know as the T.M.T. International Observatory — T.I.O., in case you haven’t read enough acronyms — has publicly put the cost of its telescope at $1.4 billion, but recent analyses by knowledgeable outsiders come up with a price tag of more than $2 billion.

    In return for that investment, all American astronomers, not just collaboration members, will gain access to both giant telescopes to pursue certain important projects.

    Granted, even without these mammoth glass eyes, American astronomers will still have instruments in space, like the beloved Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope. But Hubble is growing old, and the Webb telescope, with a snake-bitten history of development, will spend a tense several months unfolding itself in space once it reaches orbit in 2021.

    Astronomers will also have the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, already under construction in Chile, which will in effect make movies of the entire universe every few nights.

    The LSST Vera Rubin Survey Telescope

    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.


    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    But that telescope is only 8 meters in size and will not see as deep into space as the Really Big Eyes. And, of course, U.S. astronomers will be able to sign on to projects as partners of their European colleagues, much like American physicists now troop to CERN, in Geneva.

    The need for giant, ground-based telescopes was apparent to American astronomers 20 years ago. The Thirty Meter project originated at the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, and has grown to include Canada, Japan, China and India. The Giant Magellan started at the Carnegie Observatories and now includes several universities and research institutes, as well as South Korea, Australia and the State of São Paulo, in Brazil.

    The two projects have been fighting for partners and funds ever since. Two telescopes, one in the North and the other in the South, would complement each other, so the story has gone. Until now, neither telescope has been able to enlist the federal government as a partner.

    Last year the two groups agreed to make joint cause to Academy panel and the astronomical community.

    As Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy said then, “Both projects finally woke up to the fact they are being creamed by the European 39-meter.”

    But the Thirty Meter team has yet to make peace with the protesters, in Hawaii, for whom the telescope represents a long history of colonial disrespect of native rights and culture.

    Last July, construction workers arrived at Mauna Kea to start building the telescope, only to find that nine protesters had handcuffed themselves to a cattle guard, blocking the road up the mountain.

    The ensuing standoff captured the imagination of people sympathetic to the plight of indigenous people, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat of Hawaii (who is also running for president), and generated unease within the collaboration. In July, Vivek Goel, vice president for research at the University of Toronto, one of the Canadian partners in the Thirty Meter projected, issued a statement that the university “does not condone the use of police force in furthering its research objectives.”

    The Thirty Meter team recently secured a building permit for their alternative telescope site, on La Palma, in Spain’s Canary Islands. But that mountain is only half as high as Mauna Kea, leaving more atmosphere and water vapor between the astronomers and the stars. Some of the T.M.T. partners, like Canada and Japan, are less than enthusiastic about the possible switch. An environmental organization, Ben Magec, has vowed to fight the telescope, saying the area is rife with archaeological artifacts. Moreover, moving the telescope off American soil, would only complicate the politics of obtaining funding from the National Science Foundation.

    Back in 2003, when these giant-telescope efforts were starting, Richard Ellis, an astronomer now at University College London, said, “We are really going to have a hard time building even one of these.” He didn’t know just how true that was.

    Now, as the wheels of the academic and government bureaucracy begin to turn, many American astronomers worry that they are following in the footsteps of their physicist colleagues. In 1993, Congress canceled the Superconducting Super Collider, and the United States ceded the exploration of inner space to Europe and CERN, which built the Large Hadron Collider, 27 miles in diameter, where the long-sought Higgs boson was eventually discovered.

    Superconducting Super Collider map, in the vicinity of Waxahachie, Texas, Cancelled by The U.S. Congress in 1993 because it showed no “immediate economic benefit”

    CERN/LHC Map

    The United States no longer builds particle accelerators. There could come a day, soon, when Americans no longer build giant telescopes. That would be a crushing disappointment to a handful of curious humans stuck on Earth, thirsting for cosmic grandeur. In outer space, nobody can hear you cry.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 4:23 am on August 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT,   

    From Science and Technology Facilities Council: “The next big thing in astronomy: ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope” 


    From Science and Technology Facilities Council


    The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be the world’s largest visible and infrared telescope – when completed, this new eye on the sky will open up new windows onto the universe and see things we can’t yet imagine. (Credit: STFC)

    On the top of a mountain in Chile, construction of the largest visible and infrared telescope ever built – the Extremely Large Telescope, or ELT – is underway. When the telescope is operational, its 39-metre primary mirror will gather 217 times more light than the Hubble Telescope.

    The ELT’s scale makes it a feat of engineering, and its ambition makes it a feat of imagination.

    The science applications of the ELT are vast. It will allow us to image planets outside our solar system, tell us what they are made of and if they can support life, and maybe even help us understand more about the mysteries of dark matter. And that’s just the start.

    As the ELT and its instruments evolve, it will generate discoveries that we can’t yet imagine.

    Delivering this awe-inspiring project is beyond the reach of a single nation, but is within our grasp thanks to multinational collaboration and science-led innovation.

    The UK is playing a key role in the ELT’s innovation.

    At the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), we fund the UK ELT Project Office, led by Dr Chris Evans. It co-ordinates activities across the UK’s principle partners for research and development for the project – the University of Cambridge, Durham University, University of Oxford, and STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre and RAL Space – in close collaboration with the European Southern Observatory (ESO). As Dr Evans says: “It’s exciting to be part of one of the biggest global science collaborations in history – and to see the UK helping to shape the project and drive it forwards.

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    The ELT will be taller than a football stadium. (Credit: ESO)

    Let’s find out more about the ELT

    The ELT will be the world’s largest optical telescope, meaning it will use mirrors to gather light in the visible and the infrared spectrum. The telescope is being built by the ESO and its 15 member states, of which the UK is a major partner.

    When complete, the ELT will be a state-of-the-art facility, with capabilities far beyond any other ground-based optical telescope. It will have a footprint of 115 metres (to make room for the telescope, the top of the mountain has been levelled), and its dome will be 80 metres tall, making it taller than a football stadium.

    This size is only possible because the ELT has driven an ‘industrial revolution’ in telescope construction. This has changed the way the telescope is made, and means that new types of businesses can be involved in its production, with greater emphasis on production speed, quality and logistics.

    The ELT will be made up of lots of smaller components that fit together (like Lego), rather than a few one-off items.

    The telescope’s primary mirror is a great example of this – it will be 39-metres across, and made up of 798 hexagonal segments. It’s the size of this primary mirror that determines how much light it can capture – and how much of the universe it will be able to see.

    For astronomers, physicists and stargazers everywhere, developing a telescope this size with these capabilities is a major priority – it’s the one they have been waiting for.

    Very large vs extremely large

    If you want to be precise, the difference between an extremely large telescope and a very large telescope is about 30.80 metres…that’s the difference in size between the ELT and the Very Large Telescope (VLT), currently the most advanced optical observatory in the world.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo

    It’s this huge jump in class between the 8-10 metre telescopes and the ELT that’s getting astronomers so excited.

    The ELT will be much more powerful than any other telescope currently in existence. If the telescope was placed at Land’s End, it could see a bumblebee at John O’Groats.

    Right now, 8-10 metre telescopes are the best on the planet. With them, astronomers and physicists have made amazing discoveries, like producing the first image of a planet outside our solar system and tracking stars as they move around the black hole in the centre of our galaxy. The ELT won’t replace these telescopes; they will continue to power scientific discovery for years to come.

    But they have also opened the door to new mysteries about our universe. To address the new questions raised by existing telescopes and make new discoveries, astronomers need a new class of telescope to complement them – one in the 30-60 metre diameter range.

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    ELT deploying lasers to create artificial stars.
    (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org))

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

    Size isn’t the only thing that matters

    It’s not just the size of the telescope that makes the ELT so impressive. The engineers and scientists designing the telescope and its instruments are bringing expertise honed for other facilities to bear on every aspect of the ELT.

    One of the most sophisticated pieces of technology underpinning the ELT’s operation is its adaptive optics system. Adaptive optics allow astronomers to take really clear images of the stars by stopping them from twinkling.

    They can do this because the twinkling isn’t caused by the stars themselves – it’s caused by distortions in the earth’s atmosphere. By measuring the effect of the atmosphere on bright reference stars in the nearby sky (or on artificial laser guide stars), thousands of little tiny pistons (called actuators) under the surface of one of the mirrors push it gently to change its shape and correct for distortions in the atmosphere and create crisp images of the cosmos.

    This technology also has applications for much smaller environments, like the environment within the human body. Biological and medical researchers have been working together with imaging experts to study the murky environment within cells.

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    Exquisite instruments

    Being able to capture light from the far reaches of the universe is one thing – but it’s the ELT’s instruments that will transform that light into scientific discoveries.

    The ELT will have three key instruments in place at ‘first light’ or following soon after – MICADO (a camera), HARMONI (a spectrograph), and METIS (a mid-infrared spectrograph and imager).

    HARMONI is the ELT’s ‘workhorse’ spectrograph. It will detect light in the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum, and produce 3D images of the sky with unparalleled sharpness and clarity. Because the ELT will have adaptive optics built in, the design of the telescope and HARMONI must stay closely coupled. This is an exciting challenge for the UK team leading the design of this critical instrument.

    Leading things is Professor Niranjan Thatte from the University of Oxford, in collaboration with STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and experts at Durham University.

    The group – along with contributions from international partners in Lyon, Marseille, Tenerife, and Madrid – will also be working together to ensure the subsystems for HARMONI operate seamlessly.

    Read our interview with Professor Niranjan Thatte from the University of Oxford and lead investigator on the HARMONI instrument.

    While HARMONI will be the first instrument to tackle the big questions ELT was built for, other instruments will be added to the telescope after first light. These include HIRES (a high-resolution spectrograph) and MOSAIC (a multi-object spectrograph).

    ESO E-ELT HIRES in development

    ESO E-ELT MOSAIC

    MOSAIC will allow astronomers to observe large numbers of the most distant galaxies simultaneously, and build on scientific discoveries expected from the James Webb Space Telescope.

    As part of an international consortium of 11 countries, UK science and engineering teams are leading aspects of the instrument design.

    Find out why MOSAIC is the instrument Professor Simon Morris, ESO Council Member and Professor of Physics at Durham University, is most excited about.

    The future of astronomy

    The ELT will change the way we view the universe and open new avenues of exploration.

    There are certain scientific questions about the universe we know ELT will be able to answer: it will let us observe atmospheres of planets inside and outside our own solar system (possibly detecting ‘bio-markers’ indicating that they could support life), look back in time at the most distant galaxies so we can understand their formation and evolution, and make direct measurements of the expanding Universe, which could tell us more about dark matter and how it is distributed.

    But perhaps the most exciting questions the ELT will help us to answer are the ones we haven’t yet thought to ask, and the serendipitous discoveries that will take us by surprise.

    It’s worth remembering that the ELT is not just being designed for today’s researchers.

    This incredible telescope will inspire a new generation of astronomers to look to the sky, and fuel their discoveries for decades as they work to understand our place in the universe.
    Find out more about the ELT on the ESO website
    Discover more about big telescopes

    Big telescopes infographic

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:07 pm on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT, HARMONI spectrograph, Professor Niranjan Thatte,   

    From STFC: “The astronomer bringing HARMONI to the Extremely Large Telescope – with Professor Niranjan Thatte” 


    STFC

    1.28.18


    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, at an altitude 3,046 m (9,993 ft)

    While the foundations for the Extremely Large Telescope ( ESO ELT) are taking shape on the Cerro Armazones mountain in Chile, teams in the UK are getting to work on the instrument that will allow the ELT to deliver amazing discoveries for decades to come.

    1
    Professor Niranjan Thatte, principle investigator for the HARMONI instrument, with a Lego model of the ELT. (Credit: Dave Fleming)

    This instrument is HARMONI: it will be the ELT’s work-horse spectrograph, analysing the light collected by the telescope to tell us about the properties of distant objects. While other instruments can be added to the ELT once it’s been built, HARMONI is one of its critical first-light instruments, and so must be designed and built in parallel with the telescope itself.

    Niranjan Thatte, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, is leading the project in collaboration with the Science and Technology Facility Council’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and experts at Durham University. We caught up with him to find out how he became involved with the ELT and what it’s like to take the lead on such an incredible international project.

    How did you first get involved with the ELT?

    In 2006, I was at a meeting in Marseille where the ELT concept was presented to the astronomy community for the first time. Back in Oxford, I had been working on an instrument (an integral field spectrograph), which is now part of SINFONI on the Very Large Telescope (VLT).

    ESO/SINFONI

    ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)

    The spectrograph had been very successful on the VLT – providing unprecedented views of some of the most distant galaxies known, and seeing a giant gas cloud being ripped apart by the black hole at the centre of our galaxy.

    But there were no plans for a similar ‘integral field’ spectrograph to be included on the ELT at first light…

    There had been a lot of focus on the next generation instruments, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a need for a workhorse instrument like HARMONI.

    After the meeting, in light of the discussions, ESO released a call for proposals for instrument concepts, and after 11 conceptual studies were carried out by leading instrument builders across Europe, they selected two instruments to be part of the ELT at first light – the camera MICADO and our integral-field spectrograph HARMONI.

    We’ve been hearing a lot about how the design and construction of HARMONI is being led by the UK – what does this mean for UK scientists and researchers?

    The UK is very much in a leadership role with HARMONI. It takes a lot of drive to pull a project like this together, and that drive is coming from the UK.

    It also means that we are taking on lot of the responsibility.

    Because of the scale of the project, all of the partners are taking on a part of the instrument and it will be assembled towards the end of the process. At that later stage, we want to have a coherent system – as the project leaders we’re responsible for addressing any problems and filling any gaps.

    The upside to this is that UK scientists will have guaranteed observing time on the ELT, and early access to use the telescope and all of its instruments to do nifty pieces of science. The science team will put together a coherent programme, and all the members of the consortium will have use of the telescope.

    Unfortunately, the glory part is still 10 years away! Really, we’re building the telescope for the next generation.

    Wow! So how can you make sure that HARMONI will work the way it needs to?

    It would be a different experience if we could walk down the hall and just talk to each other, but the size of the project that we are envisioning makes it impossible.

    It all depends on a lot of motivated people going above and beyond the requirements of their job.

    There are about 70 of us altogether – as well as at Oxford and the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, we have other partners Lyon, Marseille, Tenerife, and Madrid – and we try to come together 2-3 times a year in person. We need to make the sum of the parts built at each institute to come together to form a coherent whole; an instrument that is more than the sum of its parts. This requires excellent communication so everyone can see the big picture.

    There are a lot of video conferences and telephone calls, and it can be difficult, especially when we are working in different languages and cultures, so we have to be disciplined in how we work.

    I’ve not found there are cultural differences; there are just differences between individuals. People are people and they have different approaches. You have to get to know them, and know how best to interact with them.

    What is it about the project that excites you the most?

    I enjoy the technical side of things and getting stuck into the detail of the project, thinking about why something should be done one way rather than another. It can seem obvious if you are using experience built up on other instruments, but sometimes the discussions you have make you think, and you have other ideas and see other ways of doing things.

    That’s why I really enjoy brainstorms with other members of the team; it’s satisfying when ideas from a brainstorm turn into a concept for an instrument.

    The adaptive optics, for example, are a phenomenal piece of technology: they are really advanced and can make minute adjustments to deformable mirrors 1000 times a second to compensate for the earth’s atmosphere, and learning about them has been really rewarding.

    We are always learning, and doing things that we haven’t done before – this project is on a totally different scale to anything else I have worked on. These are not instruments that will fit in our labs, so testing will be interesting!

    How does it feel working on such a ground-breaking project?

    I feel extremely privileged. Astronomy was my hobby when I was in Bombay, when I built a little amateur telescope from scratch. Now I’m paid to do what I love. The only downside is that I don’t have any hobbies anymore!

    I remember the first time I went to the Southern Hemisphere, to Australia, and the sky there is so spectacular. You can see the Milky Way stretching across the entire sky, and it creates an amazing sense of awe and wonder. We talk a lot about impact in terms of new technologies, but this type of project is also important because it fuels our curiosity about our place in the Universe.

    It’s scary, but it’s very exciting. We want to do the most we can with the funding we have.

    We are always trying to push the limits of what we can deliver.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:11 pm on January 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT, First ELT Main Mirror Segments Successfully Cast   

    From ESO: “First ELT Main Mirror Segments Successfully Cast” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    9 January 2018
    Marc Cayrel
    ESO, Head of ELT Optomechanics
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6685
    Email: mcayrel@eso.org

    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1
    The first six hexagonal segments for the main mirror of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) have been successfully cast by the German company SCHOTT at their facility in Mainz. These segments will form parts of the ELT’s 39-metre main mirror, which will have 798 segments in total when completed. The ELT will be the largest optical telescope in the world when it sees first light in 2024. Credit: SCHOTT/ESO

    2
    Credit: SCHOTT/ESO

    3
    No image caption. Credit: SCHOTT/ESO


    This ESOcast shows the casting of the segments and explains how they form part of the ELT. Credit: ESO.
    Directed by: Nico Bartmann.
    Editing: Nico Bartmann.
    Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida.
    Written by: Rosa Jesse and Richard Hook.
    Music: Music written and performed by: Astral Electronic.
    Footage and photos: ESO, ACe Consortium, SCHOTT.

    The 39-metre-diameter primary mirror of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope will be by far the largest ever made for an optical-infrared telescope. Such a giant is much too large to be made from a single piece of glass, so it will consist of 798 individual hexagonal segments, each measuring 1.4 metres across and about 5 centimetres thick. The segments will work together as a single huge mirror to collect tens of millions of times as much light as the human eye.

    Marc Cayrel, head of ELT optomechanics at ESO, was present at the first castings: “It was a wonderful feeling to see the first segments being successfully cast. This is a major milestone for the ELT!”

    As with the telescope’s secondary mirror blank, the ELT main mirror segments are made from the low-expansion ceramic material Zerodur© [1] from SCHOTT. ESO has awarded this German company with contracts to manufacture the blanks of the first four ELT mirrors (known as M1 to M4, with M1 being the primary mirror) (eso1704).

    The first segment castings are important as they allow the engineers at SCHOTT to validate and optimise the manufacturing process and the associated tools and procedures.

    The casting of the first six segments is a major milestone, but the road ahead is long — in total more than 900 segments will need to be cast and polished (798 for the main mirror itself, plus a spare set of 133). When fully up to speed, the production rate will be about one segment per day.

    After casting, the mirror segment blanks will go through a slow cooling and heat treatment sequence and will then be ground to the right shape and polished to a precision of 15 nanometres across the entire optical surface. The shaping and polishing will be performed by the French company Safran Reosc, which will also be responsible for additional testing (eso1717).
    Notes

    [1] Zerodur© was originally developed for astronomical telescopes in the late 1960s. It has an extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion, meaning that even in the case of large temperature fluctuations, the material does not expand. Chemically, Zerodur© is very resistant and can be polished to a high standard of finish. The actual reflective layer, made of aluminium or silver, is usually vaporised onto the extremely smooth surface shortly before a telescope is put into operation and at regular intervals afterwards. Many well-known telescopes with Zerodur© mirrors have been operating reliably for decades, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

    Links

    Further information about the ELT
    Further information on SCHOTT
    Further information on Safran Reosc
    See the latest news and press-releases about the ELT
    ELT FAQ page
    Images and videos of the ELT

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
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    Facebook

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT
    VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO NTT
    ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m.

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

     
  • richardmitnick 5:58 pm on December 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESO E-ELT, ESO Signs Contract for ELT Laser Sources   

    From ESO: “ESO Signs Contract for ELT Laser Sources” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    18 December 2017
    Frank Lison
    TOPTICA Projects GmbH
    Email: Frank.Lison@toptica-projects.com

    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1

    ESO has signed a new agreement with TOPTICA, the German photonics company, for the production of lasers to be used in ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) adaptive optics system. TOPTICA [1], in partnership with the Canadian company MPB Communications Inc. (MPBC) [2], will build at least four laser sources for the ELT [3], helping the telescope to achieve unprecedented spatial resolution for an optical/infrared ground-based telescope. The ELT is scheduled to see first light in 2024.

    The laser system for the adaptive optics system on the ELT will be based on the Four Laser Guide Star Facility (4LGSF) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The Adaptive Optics Facility, which uses the 4LGSF, has already shown spectacular improvement in image sharpness on the VLT (eso1724). The TOPTICA/MPBC Guidestar Alliance was the main contractor for the laser system on the VLT (eso1613).

    Adaptive optics compensate for the blurring effect of the Earth’s atmosphere, enabling astronomers to obtain much sharper images. Lasers are used to create multiple artificial guide stars high in the Earth’s atmosphere. These points of light are used as reference light sources to allow the adaptive optics system to compensate for turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. Unlike natural guide stars, laser guide stars can be positioned anywhere to allow the full power of adaptive optics to be used over almost the entire sky.

    Anticipated observations enabled by the ELT’s powerful built-in adaptive optics system include everything from studying black holes to investigating some of the youngest galaxies in the distant Universe.

    Notes

    [1] TOPTICA is responsible for the laser system engineering and contributes its diode and frequency-conversion technology. The work will be executed by TOPTICA Projects GmbH, which focuses on specialised laser systems such as laser guide stars.

    [2] The construction of the high-powered Raman fibre amplifiers and fibre laser pump modules will be performed by MPB Communications Inc. of Montreal, Canada. MPBC has a history of providing high power Raman fibre amplifiers for submarine communications and scientific work.

    [3] The ELT is designed to potentially have up to eight laser guide star systems in future.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT
    VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO NTT
    ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m.

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

    Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

    ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

     
  • richardmitnick 2:55 pm on September 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT, Xavier Barcons interview   

    From Science: “Top astronomer on the challenges of building the world’s largest telescope, and what’s next” 

    AAAS
    Science

    1
    New ESO chief Xavier Barcons (above) takes over from Tim de Zeeuw after a 10-year term. ROMAN G. AGUILERA/EFE/Newscom

    Sep. 15, 2017
    Daniel Clery

    Spanish astronomer Xavier Barcons took over the reins this month of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the world’s foremost international astronomy organization. It is currently building the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), destined to be the world’s largest when completed in 2024.

    In the 1980s Barcons set up the first x-ray astronomy group in Spain at the University of Cantabria. He is a specialist on active galactic nuclei, superbright galactic cores thought to be caused by giant black holes sucking in and heating up quantities of gas and dust. To study them, he’s been heavily involved in European x-ray space telescopes such as XMM-Newton and the forthcoming Athena, due for launch in 2028. Barcons has also worked at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Spain’s Council for Scientific Research, and served as chair of ESO’s council from 2012 to 2014.

    He joins ESO in a period of high activity as the organization embarks on the E-ELT, its biggest project so far. But a shadow hangs over the €1.1 billion facility: Because of a shortfall in funding, the ESO council has only approved a first phase of construction, which will produce a working telescope but with certain desired components delayed until extra funding can be found. Those components include 210 of the 798 segments that make up the 39-meter main mirror, back-up mirror segments, some lasers for the adaptive optics system, and a few instrument components.

    Meanwhile, ESO’s current main facility, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal in Chile, continues to be the world’s most productive ground-based instrument, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a new radio observatory built jointly with North American and East Asian countries, is opening up this previously little-studied window on the universe.

    ESO/VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    Barcons spoke with ScienceInsider by phone from his office at ESO headquarters in Garching, Germany. His responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

    Q: What is happening at the E-ELT site in Cerro Paranal right now?

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    A: In the past few months we handed over the mountain to the construction company that will build the E-ELT structure. Earlier a road was built and the top was flattened and a power line to the Chilean grid was installed. We’re now well placed for construction. There is a lot going on in industry, too, starting the fabrication of mirror segments and instruments.

    Q: What are the prospects for finding extra funding so that the second phase of construction can be completed?

    A: We’re looking for options. We could expand the number of member states [now 15 European nations plus Chile]; we’re actively discussing with two European countries and have signed a cooperation agreement with Australia. Australia will only be part of VLT but it will help with our finances. We wish Australia would become a member state. It has so much to offer; its astronomical community is very skilled. It’s a win-win situation. We’re also exploring other options: reducing costs, finding synergies.

    Of the several items in phase II, the most critical is completing the mirror. Although it will retain its 39-meter outer diameter, phase one will leave a hole in the middle. In June the council approved design work for the full mirror and we’re hoping for authorization to build it. We need to make that happen. Of the other items [in phase two], none are time critical at the moment. They’re modular, we can decide later.

    Q: Originally, Brazil joining ESO was to have provided the necessary E-ELT funding. Are there any signs of that happening?

    A: The Brazilian parliament ratified the [accession] treaty in 2015. The procedure is completed. It’s up to the government to decide when to implement it. I haven’t seen much progress recently but it’s at the top of my list to conclude this process in the near future. No projects depend on it happening.

    Q: With facilities getting increasingly large and expensive, might ESO collaborate again globally as it did with ALMA?

    A: That could be possible for some projects. I’m extremely proud of ALMA. It’s a really unique machine and we couldn’t have done it alone and neither could the other partners. I’m sure there will be opportunities to collaborate on other projects but we’re very busy, we can’t start any new significant opportunities until E-ELT is well underway.

    Q: One of E-ELT’s rivals, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), is struggling to secure its site on Mauna Kea in Hawaii because of local opposition.

    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    If the project collapses, what impact will the absence of a giant telescope in the Northern Hemisphere have for astronomy?

    A: It would not be a catastrophe; we only have ALMA in the south. But it would be much better to have two in the south [E-ELT and the Giant Magellan Telescope] and one in the north, in Hawaii or elsewhere.

    Giant Magellan Telescope, to be at Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    [The TMT has identified the Canary Islands as a possible alternative.] We’ve offered all possible help to assist [the TMT] to make it become a reality. But purely from a scientific point of view, it’s better to have north and south coverage.

    Q: After E-ELT, what’s next for ESO?

    A: I don’t know at the moment, although astronomers dream about this night and day. There are some ideas on the table, including a reasonably sized spectroscopic telescope, a large submillimeter antenna to supplement ALMA, and maybe an expansion of the VLT interferometer. We have no opportunity to start anything in the near future, but I’m sure there will be a good battery of proposals when the time comes.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 9:58 am on September 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Grand Presentation, , , , , ESO E-ELT   

    From Ethan Siegel: “A New Record Nears: The World’s Largest Telescope Prepares For Completion” An Excellent Presentation… 

    Ethan Siegel
    9.13.17

    …With a Bit of a Premature Title

    1
    This artist’s rendering shows a night view of the Extremely Large Telescope in operation on Cerro Armazones in northern Chile. The telescope is shown using lasers to create artificial stars high in the atmosphere. ESO/L. Calçada

    If you want to learn more about the Universe than you ever have before, there’s only so much you can do. You can improve your optics and your seeing, making your mirrors smoother and defect-free than ever before. You can improve your conditions, through adaptive optics or optimizing your observatory’s location. You can work on your camera/CCD/grism technology, to make the most of every single photon your telescope is capable of collecting. But even if you do all that, there’s one improvement that will take you beyond anything you’ve ever accomplished before: size. The larger your primary mirror, the deeper, faster, and higher-resolution you’ll be able to image anything you look at in the Universe.

    Currently, there are a number of 10-meter (33-foot) diameter optical telescopes in the world, with the Giant Magellan Telescope, at 25 meters (82 feet), poised to break that record in just a few years.

    Giant Magellan Telescope, to be at Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile

    But an even more ambitious project, the 39 meter (128 foot) diameter Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), began construction in 2014. By time the mid-2020s come around, it will blow everything else away.

    3
    The construction design for the ELT, revealed in 2016, was the basis for this artist’s rendition of what the completed telescope, with the dome open, will look like in approximately 7 years. ESO/L. Calçada/ACe Consortium

    Not only will it take images that are 16 times sharper and with 256 times the light-gathering power than Hubble, but it will enable us to do science that’s unfathomable with our current instruments. We can directly detect light from extra-solar planets — planets around other stars beyond our own — and break it up spectroscopically, discerning what’s in their atmospheres. For the largest planets of all around the closest stars, we’ll even be able to take the first direct images of those worlds. It will also take unprecedented images of the most distant, earliest galaxies in the Universe; of supermassive black holes at the centers of other galaxies; will enable the detection of water and organic (carbon-based) molecules in protoplanetary disks around newly forming stars; and it will probe the nature and properties of dark matter and dark energy. With a telescope this large and high-quality, so much new science becomes possible.

    4
    The evolving protoplanetary disk, with large gaps, around the young star HL Tauri. ALMA image on the left, VLA image on the right. With the ELT, new views of a protoplanetary disk like this, including in the optical, will become possible at last. Carrasco-Gonzalez, et al.; Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    But the key to it all is the size and quality of the primary mirrors. I had the opportunity to speak with Marc Cayrel, the project manager of the optics — the eyes of the telescope — for the ELT. In order to build a telescope this large, you need to build an effective surface that’s properly shaped to focus the incoming light across an area 39 meters in diameter with a large hole in the center: the equivalent of 1000 square meters. (For comparison, Hubble’s area is 4.5 square meters.) The surface needs to be smooth down to an incredible 7.5 nanometers: just 1/100th the size of the wavelengths of light it will collect. You cannot build a single mirror that large to that level of smoothness, so the only option is to do it in segments. With material manufactured by SCHOTT, made out of their unique, low-expansion ZERODUR® material, and then polished by SAFRAN-REOSC, the ELT will boast the largest primary mirror of any optical telescope in humanity’s history.

    5
    This aerial image shows a 1:1 scale model of the European Extremely Large Telescope’s primary mirror, assembled next to the Asiago Astrophysical Observatory near Asiago, Italy. The segmented structure is necessary for a telescope of this size and weight, particularly at the desired optical accuracy. ESO/Sergio Dalle Ave & Roberto Ragazzoni (INAF-OAPD)

    In an incredible technical achievement, the primary mirror will be built out of 798 hexagonal segments, each one 1.4 meters in size, as measured from corner-to-corner. Each segment is a mere 50 millimeters (about two inches) thick, with the mechanics underneath, forms a complete assembly that can be moved in-and-out of the telescope. Each individual segment can be polished to a smoothness of 7.5 nanometers (where that’s the root-mean-square smoothness), achieving the optical goal. The big advantage to that smoothness is image quality, since you need to be that tiny fraction of the light’s wavelength you’re collecting in order to do high contrast imaging, particularly for objects that are so far away. A special reflective coating is then physically added to the top, to make the most of every photon that comes in and strikes the primary mirror.

    6
    A completed, cut, and polished 1.4 meter segment for the ELT primary mirror. © SCHOTT

    Manufacturing, polishing, and constructing these mirrors and the assemblies will take approximately seven years, as the ELT needs around 800 of them. Because they’re hexagonal (six-sided) mirrors that need to make a completed mirror of a particular geometric shape, that means that there are 133 unique shapes you need to complete the mirrors: 798 ÷ 6 = 133. If you didn’t produce them with the required gradient in your mirror shapes, you’d wind up with optical aberration, which was the original flaw with the Hubble Space Telescope! But the coatings themselves are delicate and temporary, and must be done on-site. So that means you need a dedicated production facility, where you can crank out about one mirror coating every day; even at that, it will take over two years to get all the individual mirrors telescope-ready.

    7
    The before-and-after difference between Hubble’s original view (left) with the mirror flaws, and the corrected images (right) after the proper optics were applied. NASA / STScI

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Being present here on Earth, the reflective coatings on the mirror are subject to wear-and-tear. Even though the optical quality of a mirror is stable over timescales of decades, the additional layers only last for about 18 months until they need maintenance. That means stripping the mirror coating completely and applying a new coat on a continuous basis. Even if you could replace one or two every day — because the telescope is only used at night — you couldn’t possibly keep all the segments in continuous operation with just the 798 mirrors you have for the telescope. Instead, you need to manufacture an “extra” 133 mirrors, one of each unique shape, so you can replace the mirror you need to repair-and-recoat without jeopardizing the full telescope mirror, for a total of 931 mirrors.

    This means, of course, that you need an extra storage facility for 133 mirrors, an on-site segment stripping and recoating facility, and to basically turn your observatory into a factory whenever you’re not viewing the sky. The plan for the ELT is to have it be in a state of continuous maintenance every day, where a mirror is removed and replaced with a newly recoated one, which means that it can be in a state of continuous operation every night.

    8
    This diagram shows the novel 5-mirror optical system of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). Before reaching the science instruments the light is first reflected from the telescope’s giant concave 39-metre segmented primary mirror (M1), it then bounces off two further 4-metre-class mirrors, one convex (M2) and one concave (M3). The final two mirrors (M4 and M5) form a built-in adaptive optics system to allow extremely sharp images to be formed at the final focal plane. ESO

    Even with 798 perfectly configured, polished, and coated mirrors, your challenges aren’t over. You don’t just need that high accuracy surface for each mirror segment, you need that same accuracy between all of the mirrors combined, and at once. In order to get the tolerance between mirror segments down to that level of precision, you need to account for Earth’s gravity, which will deform the mirrors, and temperature differences and fluctuations. Three position actuators can align each segment assembly for height, tip, and tilt, which will align the mirrors relative to one another continuously: up to four times per second. But the other necessary alignments come from a nine-actuator warping harness that’s on the underside of each mirror segment. These actuators apply torques to compensate for the distortion of each mirror, where the shape and curvature can be optimized, producing required nanometer-level accuracy. Warping adjustments can be done several times per night, as necessary, depending on what’s being observed and what the thermal conditions are.

    9
    It’s not just the assembly structure that needs to be tilted, torqued, and pointed, but the actuators on the reverse side of each mirror. That’s the only way to achieve the required 7.5 nanometer precision not just on each mirror, but between every mirror in the primary array. ESO/H.-H. Heyer

    Next, you need to create the shape of the overall mirror that you want to achieve: what we call a “set point” for the primary mirror. By beginning your night by looking at a star and analyzing the light coming from it after it reflects off the mirror, you can determine how each of the 798 mirrors must be moved, relative to one another, to achieve that perfect focus. Once you’ve done that calibration, the mirrors are all considered phase-locked. During the night, that set point will be used for observations, achieving very good accuracy throughout.

    But to maintain that set point throughout your observations, you need to make tiny, continuous adjustments to the individual mirrors. The air temperature will change; gravity will be present; there will be internal vibrations to the telescope assembly; there will even be wind effects that are substantial. It’s like seeing ripples in a lake or pond due to the wind: if you need a perfectly smooth surface, you have to clean those up. Very small adjustments will be made to each individual mirror about four-to-five times per second, which keeps you phase-locked and at that set point all throughout that night, and at that required 7.5 nanometer accuracy.

    10
    Each mirror begins as a properly-shaped circular disk, with the correct gradient for whichever of the 133 ‘spots’ it will take up in the primary mirror array. Only after polishing down to that 7.5 nanometer tolerance will the mirror be cut to a 1.4 meter hexagonal segment, with the final coating applied subsequent to that. SCHOTT/ESO

    There are also going to be gaps between the individual mirror segments, along with edge effects. There are, after all, 798 mirrors with six edges each; that’s nearly 5,000 edges total! It’s very difficult to polish a mirror evenly all the way to the edge, otherwise you get “turn-down” of the surface near the edges. To overcome that, you polish a disc 1.5 meters in diameter, then carve out your 1.4 meter hexagonal segment, and only then apply your final coating. Still, the hexagonal segments, even with gaps tuned to be only 4 millimeters between each segment, will create an image artifact that can’t be avoided: diffraction spikes. Unlike Hubble, which has four spikes on each star, ELT will have six, due to the hexagonal gaps.

    11
    The star powering the Bubble Nebula, estimated at approximately 40 times the mass of the Sun. Note how the diffraction spikes, due to the telescope itself, interfere with nearby detailed observations of fainter structures. NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team.

    Even at that, there are techniques for helping out on that front. If you image something very distant or wide-field, the spikes are barely perceptible. But if you’re trying to image something faint that’s very close to something bright, that’s when the spikes are a nightmare. By minimizing the gap-space as a function of surface area — 99% of the telescope’s surface is mirror — you help minimize the magnitude of the spikes. And by using shear imaging, where you take two images that are slightly mis-positioned and then subtract them, you can remove most of the effects of those diffraction spikes.

    12
    The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), with a main mirror 39 metres in diameter, will be the world’s biggest eye on the sky when it becomes operational early in the next decade. This is a detailed preliminary design, showcasing the anatomy of the entire observatory. ESO

    The ELT, by the nature of its size, its power, its weight, and its complexity, could never have been a “build-it-and-you’re-done” type of telescope. It needs to be continuously adjusted throughout the night to maintain the optimal mirror shape; it needs to be re-calibrated night-to-night to achieve that perfect set point; it needs to have its mirrors recoated every 18 months to keep that ideal smoothness and reflectivity. But if you do all of that, and you use the optimal techniques and instruments — from pointing-and-tracking to adaptive optics to imaging methodology — the ELT has the capability to outclass every other optical telescope ever built, on Earth or in space. It’s going to be an incredible technical achievement when complete, an achievement that requires continuous work to maintain. But the science we’ll get from it will be unlike anything else our world has ever seen.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

     
  • richardmitnick 12:46 pm on June 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ELT Primary Mirror Prepares to Flex its Muscles, ESO E-ELT, Physik Instrumente GmbH & Co. KG   

    From ESO: “ELT Primary Mirror Prepares to Flex its Muscles” 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    19 June 2017
    Marc Cayrel
    ESO
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6685
    mcayrel@eso.org

    Oliver Dietzel
    Physik Instrumente (PI) GmbH & Co. KG
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    Tel: +49 721 4846-2032
    O.Dietzel@pi.de

    Peter Grimley
    ESO Assistant Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6383
    pgrimley@partner.eso.org

    1

    ESO has signed a contract with the German company Physik Instrumente GmbH & Co. KG, based in Karlsruhe, to construct the position actuators (PACTs) that will adjust the positions of the 798 hexagonal segments of the primary mirror of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

    The segments that make up the ELT’s enormous 39-metre main mirror will be connected to the main telescope structure via a support system (ann15003), of which the PACTs are fundamental components. Each segment, some 1.4 metres across and weighing 250 kg will be mounted on three PACTs — meaning 2394 in total. The PACTs will support the segment and actively control its position in three directions, known as piston, tip and tilt. The control system of the ELT primary mirror will initiate tiny adjustments to the PACTs to maintain the mirror’s overall shape, correcting for deformations which may be caused by changes in telescope elevation, temperature and wind forces, as well as limiting the effects of vibrations.
    More Information

    Physik Instrumente has worked with ESO before, providing the hexapods that align the subreflectors to the large main reflectors of the radio telescopes that make up the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

    See the full article here .

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    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

    ESO VLT
    VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO NTT
    ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert

     
  • richardmitnick 12:09 pm on May 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESO E-ELT, ESO Signs Contracts for the ELT’s Gigantic Primary Mirror   

    From ESO: “ESO Signs Contracts for the ELT’s Gigantic Primary Mirror” A Happy Day, Indeed. 

    ESO 50 Large

    European Southern Observatory

    30 May 2017
    Richard Hook
    ESO Public Information Officer
    Garching bei München, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
    Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
    Email: rhook@eso.org

    1
    Contracts for the manufacture of the 39-metre primary mirror of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) were signed today at a ceremony at ESO’s Headquarters near Munich. The German company SCHOTT will produce the blanks of the mirror segments, and the French company Safran Reosc will polish, mount and test the segments. The contract to polish the mirror blanks is the second-largest contract for the ELT construction and the third-largest contract ESO has ever awarded.

    2
    The contracts to manufacture and polish the ELT primary mirror segments were signed on 30 May 2017 by ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, and senior representatives of SCHOTT and Safran Reosc, a subsidiary of Safran Electronics & Defense, in the presence of key ESO staff members. In this picture the first contract is being signed with SCHOTT. Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General, appears in the centre, with Thomas Westerhoff, Director Strategic Marketing Zerodur for SCHOTT, to the left and Christoph Fark, Executive Vice President Advanced Optics of SCHOTT on the right. Credit:
    ESO/M. Zamani

    3
    The contracts to manufacture and polish the ELT primary mirror segments were signed on 30 May 2017 by ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, and senior representatives of SCHOTT and Safran Reosc, a subsidiary of Safran Electronics & Defense, in the presence of key ESO staff members. In this picture the second contract is being signed with Safran Reosc. Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General appears on the right and Philippe Rioufreyt, Chief Executive Officer, Safran Reosc on the left. Credit: ESO/M. Zamani

    4
    The contracts to manufacture and polish the ELT primary mirror segments were signed on 30 May 2017 by ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, and senior representatives of SCHOTT and Safran Reosc, a subsidiary of Safran Electronics & Defense, in the presence of key ESO staff members. This picture shows key members of the contract teams, from both ESO and SCHOTT. Credit: ESO/M. Zamani

    5
    The contracts to manufacture and polish the ELT primary mirror segments were signed on 30 May 2017 by ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, and senior representatives of SCHOTT and Safran Reosc, a subsidiary of Safran Electronics & Defense, in the presence of key ESO staff members. This picture shows key members of the contract teams, from both ESO and Safran Reosc. Credit: ESO/M. Zamani

    The unique optical system of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope consists of five mirrors, each of which represents its own significant engineering challenge. The 39-metre-diameter primary mirror, which will be made up of 798 individual hexagonal segments each measuring 1.4 metres across, will be by far the largest ever made for an optical telescope. Together, the segments will collect tens of millions of times as much light as the human eye [1].

    The contracts to manufacture and polish the ELT primary mirror segments were signed today by ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, and senior representatives of SCHOTT and Safran Reosc, a subsidiary of Safran Electronics & Defense, in the presence of key ESO staff members. The first contract was signed with SCHOTT by Christoph Fark, Executive Vice President Advanced Optics, and Thomas Westerhoff, Director Strategic Marketing Zerodur. The second contract was signed with Safran Reosc by Philippe Rioufreyt, Chief Executive Officer.

    Tim de Zeeuw expressed his delight at the current progress with the ELT: “This has been an extraordinary two weeks! We saw the casting of the ELT’s secondary mirror and then, last Friday, we were privileged to have the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, attend the first stone ceremony of the ELT. And now two world-leading European companies are starting work on the telescope’s enormous main mirror, perhaps the biggest challenge of all.”

    The 798 hexagonal segments that together comprise the ELT’s primary mirror will be produced from the low-expansion ceramic material Zerodur® [2] by SCHOTT. Previously SCHOTT was also awarded the contracts for the production of the telescope’s giant secondary and tertiary mirrors and the material is also being used for the ELT’s deformable quaternary mirror that is currently under construction.

    Once the mirror blanks are ready they will be passed to Safran Reosc, to design the mounting interfaces, figure and polish the segments, integrate them into their support systems, and perform optical tests before delivery. During the polishing process, each segment will be polished until it has no surface irregularity greater than about 10 nanometres — no higher than a ladybird if each segment were as big as France!

    To meet the challenge of delivering such a large number of polished segments within seven years, Safran Reosc will build up to a peak production rate of one mirror a day. It will set up a dedicated new facility at its Poitiers plant, specialising in the production of high-tech optical and optronic (electro-optical) equipment [3].

    The new contract with Safran Reosc is the second-largest contract for the ELT construction and the third-largest contract ESO has ever signed [4]. Safran Reosc will also design, polish and test the ELT’s secondary mirror and tertiary mirror, and is currently manufacturing the 2-mm thick deformable shell mirrors that will comprise the ELT’s fourth mirror.

    Both SCHOTT and Safran Reosc have long and successful involvements with ESO. Together they manufactured many optical components, including the 8.2-metre main mirrors of the four Unit Telescopes of the ESO Very Large Telescope.

    The ELT is currently under construction at Cerro Armazones near ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, and is scheduled to see first light in 2024.
    Notes

    [1] The ELT primary mirror segments will be installed in a common support structure and equipped with edge sensors — the most accurate ever used in a telescope — that will continuously sense the locations of the ELT primary mirror segments relative to their neighbours and allow the segments to work together to form a perfect imaging system.

    [2] Zerodur® is a sophisticated material which has almost no thermal expansion even when subjected to large temperature fluctuations, is highly chemically resistant, and can be polished to a high standard of finish. The reflective layer, made of aluminum or silver, will be vapourised onto the extremely smooth surface shortly before the telescope is put into operation. Many well-known telescopes with Zerodur® mirrors have been operating reliably for decades, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

    [3] Up to 931 segments will ultimately be produced and polished, including 133 in a maintenance set, allowing for segments to be removed, replaced and recoated on a rotating basis once the ELT is in operation.

    [4] The two other contracts are those for the Dome and Main Structure of the ELT and the European ALMA Antennas.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Visit ESO in Social Media-

    Facebook

    Twitter

    YouTube

    ESO Bloc Icon

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

    ESO VLT
    VLT at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO NTT
    ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ALMA Array
    ALMA on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 metres

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO/E-ELT to be built at Cerro Armazones at 3,060 m

    ESO APEX
    APEX Atacama Pathfinder 5,100 meters above sea level, at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert

     
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