Category: Astronomy

Hexapod in Proof of Concept for High-Speed Interstellar Travel with Directed Energy

The velocity of present-day spacecraft may seem galactic in contrast to what humans experience in their daily commutes involving even the fastest trains, planes or automobiles. However, compared to the warp-drive performance known from science fiction classics such as Star Trek and Star Wars, space travel in the early 21th century still moves at a […]

Adaptive Optics – the Next Generation. 11,000 Actuators to Aid Search for Exoplanets with the E-ELT

PI and Fraunhofer IOF Cooperate on New Large Scale Adaptive Optics Project   Piezo-driven active mirrors (tip/tilt motion) and adaptive mirrors (multiple actuators deforming the mirror surface) have been employed in most high-end astronomical telescopes for more than two decades. The resolution gain compared to passive mirrors is typically more than one order of magnitude. […]

50 Hexapod 6-DOF Alignment Systems for the Sub-Reflectors of ALMA, the Largest Telescope Project in the World

The ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) observatory is the largest and most advanced astronomical telescope system in the world. ALMA is not a classical optical telescope but a combination of up to 66 radio-telescope dishes receiving electromagnetic radiation at millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelength.  The combination of many antennas, spread out over a large area, has […]

Self-Locking Actuator for Hexapod Applications Combines High Push-Pull Force with Picometer Resolution for Active Optical Alignment in Astronomy

1. Introduction Astronomical telescopes usually employ active position control for primary mirror surfaces using motorized mechanical actuators. The motion needed is generally quasistatic, to compensate gravitational and thermal effects. Another application for precision actuators within the telescope at a significantly faster motion response is the high speed tip/tilt control of a secondary or tertiary mirror. […]

Precision Motion and Positioning Equipment on Mars Rover Curiosity – Still Going Strong

Almost 4 years after Curiosity landed on Mars, it is still up and running – and while it has not discovered current life forms, the basic question whether Mars could have once supported an environment for primitive life forms is a clear “yes”, according to NASA scientists. The rover identified carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, nitrogen, […]

Ultra-Stable Mirror Mounts for LINC-NIRVANA High Resolution Imager are based on Self-clamping PiezoWalk Motors

An extremely stable motorized mount for initial alignment of two dichroic beam splitters in the instrument was required. The mirrors reflect visible light and transmit the NIR are located close to the pupil plane are very sensitive to tilt and flexure errors which could be introduced to the wave-front sensor. The technical specifications to be […]

PI Hexapod chosen for LISA Pathfinder Space Mission

On December 3, 2015, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, marking the birth of the next phase of an incredible project that will one day help scientists look at the structure of galaxies and our early universe. We might even get a preview into the structure and nature of space-time itself. […]

Ultra-High Precision Positioning Actuators to Align Mirror Segments in the E-ELT Telescope

Hybrid Concept Using Piezo / Voice Coil and Screw Drives for the E-ELT Telescope The combination of “coarse” precision screw drives for long distance motion and ultra-high resolution actuators such as piezo and voice-coil-based systems allows combining travel ranges up to hundreds of millimeters with response, smoothness and resolutions not achievable with conventional drives. The […]

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About PI

PI (Physik Instrumente) is a leading manufacturer of precision motion control equipment, piezo motors, air bearing stages and hexapod parallel-kinematics for semiconductor applications, photonics, bio-nano-technology and medical engineering. PI has been developing and manufacturing standard & custom precision products with piezoceramic and electromagnetic drives for 4 decades. The company has been ISO 9001 certified since 1994 and provides innovative, high-quality solutions for OEM and research. PI is present worldwide with fifteen subsidiaries, R&D / engineering on 3 continents and total staff of more than 1,000.

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