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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[48.03] Structural and Aerodynamic Optimization of UltraLightweight Technology for Research in Astronomy (ULTRA)

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

The focus of ULTRA (see poster by Twarog et al.) is a three-year plan to develop and test ultralightweight technology for research applications in astronomy. The goal is to demonstrate that a viable alternative exists to traditional glass-mirror technology by designing, fabricating, and testing a research telescope prototype comprising fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) materials. To date, several mirror designs have been tested. The main goal in the first year has been to develop a 0.4m diameter mirror and OTA that serve as prototypes for the 1m telescope design. Mirrors of 0.4m diameter have been successfully fabricated which yield diffraction limited images. This poster will include a display of the complete OTA (including optics), optics test results, and astronomical images taken with prototype mirrors.

Finite element analysis has been used to evaluate the OTA and mirror designs. Preliminary design details were incorporated in a knowledge-based system. Adaptive Modeling Language (AML), an object oriented programming language developed by Technosoft, Inc., was used to develop a parameterized geometric model of the preliminary design. The system can generate mirrors with radials/circumferentials, tube core substructures, as well as modeling the support structure. Computational fluid dynamics analyses were performed for sweep, inclination and ambient wind speed. Finite element analyses were performed for core density and arrangement, skin thickness, back-surface curvature, spider configuration and arrangement of the OTA, while the loading conditions considered thus far are thermal, inertial, and aerodynamic pressure loads. Experimental tests, including ultrasonic nondestructive evaluations, infrared imaging, modal testing, and wind tunnel tests, have been performed on the first prototype mirror, with the primary goal of validating analytical models and identifying potential manufacturing induced variations to be expected among "like" mirrors.

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

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