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Reaching For The Stars With Motion Control

Keck Observatory at sunrise on top of the Maunakea mountain summit in Hawaii
(Image source: W. M. Keck Observatory)

The W. M. Keck Observatory, on the Maunakea mountain summit in Hawaii, recently completed a motion control upgrade project that now allows the Keck Observatory telescopes to offer data and observations with impressive nanometer precision of one thirty-six-hundredth of one degree.  The upgrades included redesigns of very critical azimuth and elevation systems that incorporated ultra-precise encoders, which allow true nanometer-level measurements that were not available in the early ‘90s when the telescopes were first put into service.

In the end, the upgrade project was able to improve performance for the key requirements of, telescope pointing, open-loop and closed-loop tracking, and repositioning.  This means these giant telescopes can be aimed anywhere in the sky while having the confidence that the telescope is pointing on a chosen star with an accuracy of 1.0 arcsec.

Read the full article in Tech Briefs >