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PI Awarded Hexapod System Contract

Photonics.com
Apr 2006
almahexapod.jpgPhysik Instrumente (PI), an Auburn, Mass., developer of astronomical hexapods, actuators and active-optics developer, was awarded a contract by Vertex Antenna Systems, a unit of General Dynamics C4 Systems, to provide 25 six-axis hexapod alignment systems and motion controllers. These custom high-precision micropositioning systems will be used to align the secondary reflectors in 25 twelve-meter telescopes -- the North American portion of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array Project (ALMA) radio telescope. ALMA is an international joint effort to build the world's most sensitive radio telescope, in Chile's Atacama Desert, 16,500 feet above sea level. Eventually, an array of up to 64 antennas will work together as one giant virtual telescope and provide a spatial resolution 10 times higher than the Hubble Space Telescope. After its completion in 2011, the telescope will allow scientists to observe galaxies in their formative stages with unmatched clarity.


GLOSSARY
active optics
corrects the shape of reflective optics; primarily applied in large telescope systems, in order to compensate for slowly varying changes in temperature, wind and mechanical stress
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