Boston Micromachines Corporation has announced that it has been awarded a contract by the UCO/Lick Observatory, headquartered at the University of California Santa Cruz campus, to develop the largest MEMS deformable mirror (DM) ever produced. The new MEMS deformable mirror will be used in the study of extra- solar planets in the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI).
Custom built and manufactured by Boston Micromachines specifically for the GPI, the deformable mirror will have 4096 actuators over a 25mm aperture. The Gemini telescopes will use the DM for precise wavefront control, enabling high-contrast imaging of planets outside of our solar system. Plans call for this instrument to be deployed in 2010 on the Gemini South telescope.
Under the guidance of the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics at UCO/Lick and the Center for Adaptive Optics at UC Santa Cruz, a prototype imaging system was built using Boston Micromachines' Kilo-DM deformable mirror which has 10.5 mm aperture with 1.5 microns of deflection. This successful prototype led to the commission a larger custom designed mirror from Boston Micromachines.
"The MEMS deformable mirror is an exciting new development in technology that will enable us to achieve the precise measurements needed to observe extra-solar planets directly in their own light," said Donald Gavel, Director of the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics. "Our initial testing has proved the precision and stability of the Kilo-DM mirror. The high precision wavefront control of the 4096 actuator mirror to be built for the GPI will give us the high-order adaptive optics system that will correct the blurring effects of the atmosphere."
"We are pleased to be part of this new frontier in science exploration with the GPI's search for extra-solar planets," said Paul Bierden, president and CEO of Boston Micromachines. "Our high performance Kilo-DM mirror demonstrated its scientific and technical strengths during the rigorous design studies that determined the technical viability of the imaging process. We will continue pushing the technology to meet the demanding needs of the astronomical community and look forward to our ongoing work with the talented Gemini community during our custom design process."
14th March 2007