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Software Integration Enables Fast, Precise Telescope Design

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David A. Rozansky

Astrophysicists have studied gamma ray bursts for more than 25 years, but they are no closer to understanding them or determining their sources. These unpredictable bursts of gamma-ray photons come from all directions and are among the greatest mysteries in the cosmos.
Studying these bursts presents many problems for science. First, they do not penetrate the Earth's atmosphere, so ground-based telescopes need very high resolution and dynamic range so they can identify faint optical transients that appear to accompany the gamma ray bursts. Second, they are short-lived, so telescopes must be able to quickly scan to a precise location.
Accomplishing this task required a new telescope and motion system. Producing it quickly meant that designers at Torus Precision Optics in Iowa City, Iowa, had to smoothly integrate optical and mechanical design and manufacturing software packages.

Photonics Spectra
Jul 1998

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