"Colossus and SETI: Searching for Heat Signatures" Topic
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|Tango01||18 May 2017 12:44 p.m. PST|
"Yesterday we looked at the PLANETS telescope, now under construction on the Haleakala volcano on the island of Maui. What will become the world's largest off-axis telescope is considered a pathfinder, part of the progression of instruments that will take us through the array of sixteen 5-meter mirrors that will be called ExoLife Finder, itself to be followed by Colossus, an instrument comprised of 58 independent off-axis telescopes. Colossus will use ultra-thin mirror technologies and interferometric methods to achieve an effective resolution of 74 meters. And it will be optimized for detecting extrasolar life and extraterrestrial civilizations.
How to build something on such a scale? The design work is being handled by a consortium led by Jeff Kuhn (University of Hawaii), Svetlana V. Berdyugina (University of Hawaii/Kiepenheuer Institut für Sonnenphysik), David Halliday (Dynamic Structures) and businessman Caisey Harlingten, backed by an international team of astronomers associated with the PLANETS Foundation, as we saw yesterday. Building an instrument of this scale calls for innovation across the board, especially in terms of reducing weight and heightening resolution.
Thus Colossus relies upon extremely lightweight mirrors that deploy electromechanical force actuators that control the mirror's shape and provide its stiffness. These mirrors are not separated from their electromechanical backing structure after manufacturing, depending on a network control system to fix their shape. In this overview of the Colossus design, they are described as ‘live mirrors,' unlike normal telescope optics because they have much less mass and can be created without conventional grinding…"