SENER signs a contract with the European Southern Observatory for the M2 and M3 mechanisms of the E-ELT

19/01/2017
SENER signs a contract with the European Southern Observatory for the M2 and M3 mechanisms of the E-ELT

SENER has signed a contract with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) for the design and production of the cells for the secondary and tertiary mirrors (M2 and M3) of the E-ELT, which will be the largest optical/infrared telescope ever built.

The E-ELT will have a size of 39 m and will use a complex optical system of five mirrors with the most sophisticated technology, a cutting-edge development in the field of astronomy in which SENER will be participating for at least 5 years.

The contract, which was signed at the headquarters of the ESO in Garching, Germany, by the Director General of the ESO, Professor Tim de Zeeuw and the Director of SENER’s Space Department, Diego Rodríguez, involves the design, construction and verification of the cells for the M2 and M3 mirrors as well as their control systems and auxiliary equipment.

The cells’ mechanisms guarantee the alignmentof the telescope during observation while correcting optics deformations , which have a diameter of over 4 metres and weight of approximately 3.5 tonnes. In this process, a hexapod will be responsible for aligning and tracking the mirrors with a precision of tens of microns.  There will also be an active structure (wrapping harness) used to compensate errors in the mirrors’ surface, in this case with a precision of tens of nanometres. These are large-size critical elements that require extremely high precision levels to give the telescope optimal image quality.

The contracts for manufacturing these types of component go to the best tenders from companies in the ESO member countries, which include SENER. The work awarded to SENER includes an important role for its aerospace division in Poland, for which the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is its first ESO contract.

This signing of this contract was attended by representatives from the CDTI (Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology) and the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, as well as members of the ESO and SENER.

SENER’s work in Astronomy encompasses optical systems, electromechanical components and systems, instrumentation systems and mirror drive systems for both ground and on-board satellite telescopes.     

SENER has been present in the field of ground astronomy and large scientific infrastructures since the year 2000 and it has an extensive portfolio of projects that bear witness to the quality of its solutions, for clients such as the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The list of customised precision mechanisms delivered so far includes the positioning systems for M2 mirrors for the GTC, VISTA and IRAIT telescopes, the phase-B design for the M5 of the E-ELT, the actuator system for the JPCam panoramic camera, the robotic calibration arm for ALMA, the rotator for the VLT and the prime-focus corrector system for the WHT.

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