Sener Aeroespacial has signed a contract with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) for the design and production of a system for manipulating the segments (Segment Manipulator, SeM) of the primary mirror M1 of the ESO Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the largest optical / infrared ever built -Telescope.
ESO’s ELT will have a primary mirror 39 meters in diameter and use a complex five-mirror optical system and state-of-the-art technology, a development in the field of astronomy to which the company has contributed its technology since 2007. In fact, it is involved in many critical elements of telescope optomechanics (units of the M1, M2, M3 and M5).
As in previous contracts, the scope of work includes the design, construction and review of the entire mechanism, which is also seen as a critical system for the operation of the ELT. The primary mirror segment handling system (M1 SeM) is the only system allowed to fly over the primary mirror, which consists of 798 mirror segments and 133 spare parts that are subject to constant maintenance and continuous treatment to keep the mirrors polished.
Among its main features, the M1 SeM consists of a segment manipulator, which is required to enable the daily replacement of part of the primary mirror segments and to include future maintenance systems for the primary mirror. The manipulator combines a long stroke outside the mirror with a length of 23 meters and a short operating time of two and a half minutes. In addition, the segment clamping mechanism is highlighted in a wide operating range of 6 degrees of freedom with high precision and repeatability.
Like the other telescope mechanisms, the SeM has to guarantee its proper function during the 30 years in which the mission is carried out under extreme conditions: The telescope is located on the Chilean mountain Cerro Amazones at an altitude of over 3,000 m. Therefore exposed to very low temperatures and in an environment that registers a wide range of humidity conditions and a concentration of suspended dust particles. It is designed for extreme earthquakes.
The company has been active in the field of terrestrial astronomy and large scientific infrastructures since 2000 and has a broad portfolio of projects that demonstrate the quality of its solutions for clients such as the European Southern Observatory (ESO). His work at Astronoma includes optical systems, electromechanical components and systems, instrumentation systems, and large mirror propulsion systems for ground-based telescopes and space systems. The list of customer-specific precision mechanisms delivered so far includes the positioning systems for M2 mirrors of the GTC, VISTA (ESO telescope) and IRAIT telescopes, the actuation system for the JPCam panorama camera, the robot calibration arm for ALMA and a rotator for the ESO VLT telescope, the PFC (Primary Focus Translation and Optical Correction) system for the William Herschel telescope and the preliminary design of the EST M1 primary mirror.
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