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Solar Telescope Enclosure Design Awarded
August 10, 2010

AEC Engineering has been awarded the engineering design of the enclosure for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) which is planned for construction on Mount Haleakala, on the island of Maui in Hawaii. ATST will be the largest solar telescope in the world, with unprecedented abilities to view details of the Sun. Using adaptive optics technology, ATST will be able to provide the sharpest views ever taken of the solar surface. It is expected that the 4 meter telescope will have a significant impact on the study of cosmic magnetic fields, plasma physics and astronomy, allowing scientists to learn even more about the Sun and solar-terrestrial interactions. The ATST project is funded by the National Science Foundation and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).

Rendering of proposed ATST facility at the primary Mees site by Tom Kekona, K.C. Environmental, Inc. Original aerial photo by Frank Rizzo.

The ATST enclosure is a complex structure designed to protect the telescope assembly. The enclosure structure includes a wide assembly of mechanical sub-systems, which in addition to protecting and servicing the telescope, allow the entire structure to move so it can point, track and slew with the telescope assembly. Solar telescopes differ significantly from nighttime viewing telescopes, in that the thermal loads from the Sun’s radiation need to be counteracted such that the heat does not affect the “seeing” of the telescope.

AEC Engineering is part of the IDOM group, an engineering consulting firm headquartered in Bilbao, Spain. The project will be led from the AEC-IDOM office in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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