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Images of Primary Mirror Installation

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Home > News and Updates > SOFIA Telescope Floats!


SOFIA Telescope

installing the primary mirror

The SOFIA telescope, looking through the cavity opening. The 2.7 meter primary mirror is under the red cover. The wide field camera, with its aluminum cover, is on the telescope headring at the 8 o'clock position. The plastic wrap temporarily protects areas of the metering structure painted with Ball IR black paint.

All major components of the telescope, excepting the secondary and tertiary mirrors, have now been installed in the SOFIA aircraft. In addition, all control and support equipment is now in place and has been shown to function correctly. A major milestone was reached in November when the 1.2 meter spherical hydrostatic bearing was successfully used to float the ten-ton SOFIA telescope on 50 atmospheres of oil pressure. At that point the telescope could be moved easily by one person. The telescope servo control system was closed around the electronic fiber optic gyros in early December. All three tracker cameras were successfully operated in mid December. By placing fixed laser spots on the ceiling of the hangar, the SOFIA team was able to image the spots in the 6 degree wide field camera. Although these spots were slightly out of focus, the team was able to demonstrate inertial tracking of the telescope with the correct direction and rate. Within the next few months, the following additional checks will be made:

1) Non-inertial tracking using the fixed laser spots
2) Tests of the secondary alignment, focus and chopping mechanism
3) Alignments of the all telescope optics
4) End to end star test with the CCD camera HIPO

Images of the Primary Mirror Installation

Side view of the mirror cart for transfering of the Primary Mirror to the telescope cavity area of aircraft.

Primary Mirror (with red protective covering) inside the mirror cart.

View of the Primary Mirror from below the mirror cart.

Attaching the mirror cart to the crane.

Lifting of Primary Mirror.

Transferring the Primary Mirror into the telescope cavitiy.
image courtesy of L3

Transferring the Primary Mirror into the telescope cavitiy.

Almost there.
image courtesy of L3

Primary Mirror inside the telescope cavity.
image courtesy of L3

Primary Mirror attached to the Telescope Assembly Structure.

click on image for close-up view

unless otherwise stated, images courtesy of USRA

Related Features:

metering structure installation

Metering Structure Integration
Summary and image of the Metering Structure integration process. 06 May 2003

Telescope Suspension Assembly Integration
Summary and time lapse video of the integration process. 03 Feb 2003

view images of telescope integration Images of Telescope Suspension Assembly Integration
Images showing the installation of the Telescope Suspension Assembly into the aircraft . 03 Feb 2003
built up inner cradle Telescope Suspension Assembly
Images showing the different components which make up the Telescope Suspension Assembly. 14 Aug 2002
view time lapse video Time Lapse Video of Aircraft Modification
The rafter-cam showing the "downjacking" of the aircraft. 03 Feb 2003
take virtual tour Virtual Tour of SOFIA Observatory
Tour the interior of the observatory. 14 Aug 2002

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Page Last Updated: June 22, 2004

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