AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 48 Visible-Light Telescopes, Instruments, and Technology
Poster, Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[48.02] The UltraLightweight Technology for Research in Astronomy (ULTRA) Project

B. A. Twarog, B. J. Anthony-Twarog, S. J. Shawl, R. Hale, R. Taghavi (Univ. of Kansas), R. Fesen (Dartmouth), P. B. Etzel (SDSU), R. Martin, R. Romeo (CMA, Inc.)

The collaborative focus of four academic departments (Univ. of Kansas Aerospace Engineering, Univ. of Kansas Physics & Astronomy, San Diego State University Astronomy and Dartmouth College Astronomy) and a private industry partner (Composite Mirror Applications, Inc.-CMA, Inc.) is a three-year plan to develop and test UltraLightweight Technology for Research in Astronomy (ULTRA). The ULTRA technology, using graphite fiber composites to fabricate mirrors and telescope structures, offers a versatile and cost-effective tool for optical astronomy, including the economical fabrication and operation of telescopes ranging from small (1m or smaller) aperture for education and research to extremely large (30m+) segmented telescopes (ELTs). The specific goal of this NSF-funded three-year Major Research Instrumentation project is to design, build, and test a 1m-class optical tube assembly (OTA) and mirrors constructed entirely from composites. In the first year of the project, the team has built and is field-testing two 0.4m prototypes to validate the optical surfaces and figures of the mirrors and to test and refine the structural dynamics of the OTA. Preparation for design and construction of the 1m telescope is underway. When completed in late 2005, the ULTRA telescope will be operated remotely from Mt. Laguna Observatory east of San Diego, where it will undergo a period of intensive optical and imaging tests. A 0.4m prototype OTA with mirrors (12 kg total weight) will be on display at the meeting.

Support of this work by NSF through grants AST-0320784 and AST-0321247, NASA grant NCC5-600, the University of Kansas, and San Diego State University is gratefully acknowledged.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 5
© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.