Centre for Sensors, Instruments and Systems Development

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

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Design of optical systems and sensors


Adaptive optics without sensor for amateur astronomy.

Principal investigator

Santiago Royo Royo [+info]


Adaptive optics (AO) allows real-time compensation of the distortion induced by the atmosphere in large astronomical telescopes. Usually AO systmes use active optical elements, usually mirrors with actuators that locally deform the surface (deformable mirrors, MD). Despite the large market that is amateur astronomy, there is still no product that truly incorporates AO, in part by the need for a complex optical system combined with a measurement sensor and the difficulty of its calibration and also, by the high cost, until recently, had even the smallest DM, but mainly because in amateur telescopes, aberrations induced by the deformation of the mirror and bending of the telescope tube are at least as important as any atmospheric distortion.

The proposal is to create the first real measurement system with AO for amateur astronomy, combining three innovations. On one hand, removing the sensor of a classical adaptive optics system to directly assess the aberrations of the image from the CCD camera of the telescope, using a technique known as sensorless AO. From this point, the benefits of two techniques to compensate for aberrations of the image will be tested. A first low cost technique based on the construction of an array of three motorized actuators that directly deform the mirror at its support points, and a second and more advanced one, based on an optical system that includes a deformable mirror at the eyepiece of the telescope. The first system will compensate for the aberrations of the mirror due to its own weight and the bending of the tube due to changes in orientation during long exposures, while the second attempts to perform real-time compensation of the most significant atmospheric aberrations . If successful, albeit only the first phase, the system represents a cost reduction in the mechanics of the telescope nearly 300% (from 25K to 9K € ). The success of the second phase would improve the image quality to levels now only available through professional telescopes. The final test of the system would be installed, as part of the premarketing plan, in two robotic observatories controlled via internet and located one in each hemisphere (at La Sirene Observatory, Lagarde d'Apt, Plateau of Albion, near the Alps, France, and the observatory Canelilla, Andes, Chile).



External links


Astronomy and Astrophysics Dep. - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

UC Intellectual Property Constest

VIRTUD project blog


Prize / Distinction: Given by: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.. Given to: . "Primer Premio en el III Concurso de Propiedad Intelectual 2010 de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile." ()

Patent: "Method and system to compensate optical aberrations in a telescope"

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