Science

New Analysis Approach Could Help Boost Sensitivity Of Large Telescopes: Research

Large Telescopes
Inam Ansari
December7/ 2022

Washington: Researchers detail an analysis method that could improve telescopes at the Simons Observatory by evaluating their performance before installation. This is the first time the optical performance of a telescope has been confirmed prior to its deployment. "We developed a way to use radio-holography to characterize a fully integrated cryogenic telescope instrument prior to deployment," said research team member Grace Chesmore from the University of Chicago. "In the lab, it's much easier to spot issues before they become problematic and manipulate the components inside the telescope to optimize performance." Although it is common to wait until after installation to characterize a telescope's optical performance, it is hard to make adjustments once everything is in place. However, a full analysis typically can't be done prior to installation because lab-based techniques are designed for room temperature analysis while telescope components are kept at cryogenic temperatures to improve sensitivity. In the Optica Publishing Group journal Applied Optics, researchers led by the University of Chicago's Jeff McMahon describe how they applied their new measurement approach to the Simons Observatory Large Aperture Telescope receiver optics, which includes lenses, filters, baffles and other components. This is the first time such parameters have been confirmed in the lab prior to the deployment of a new receiver. "The Simons Observatory will create unprecedented maps of the afterglow of the Big Bang, providing an understanding of the first moments and inner workings of our universe," said Chesmore, first author of the paper. "The observatory will help make these ultra-sensitive cosmic microwave background maps possible." The cosmic mi ...

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