The largest telescope in the world dedicated to the search for Earth-approaching asteroids and other previously unknown members of the solar system will soon be operational. Its 1.8-m aperture, large and sensitive CCD, and dedication to surveying will make it possible to find as many as 80,000 new asteroids per year. The mechanical design by Barr is optimized by finite-element analysis to provide high resonant frequencies. The mount is an altitude-azimuth type for compatibility with the mirror support cell contributed by the Multi-Mirror Telescope Observatory. Both axes are driven by DC servo motors directly coupled to friction rollers. The CCD instrument stage will also be rotated under computer control. The telescope was fabricated in the University Research Instrumentation Center (URIC). Construction of the building began on Kitt Peak on July 1, 1996. The optical configuration is f/2.7 folded prime focus with a flat secondary that locates the focal plane in the center of the optical truss near the altitude axis. This shortened the telescope enough to make the dome building affordable, and the flat secondary preserves the fast f/number of the primary mirror. The coma corrector designed by R. A. Buchroeder is a modified Klee design of 5 spherical lens elements plus a filter transmitting longward of the B bandpass. The filter greatly simplifies lens design and reduces sky background while not significantly reducing the brightness of asteroids. The distortion-free, flat, unvignetted field of view is 0.8 deg in diameter and the image scale is 1.0 arcsec/24 micron pixel. Construction of the Spacewatch Telescope has been funded by grants from the DoD Clementine Program, NASA, the University of Arizona Foundation, and other private and corporate donors.
AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #28
- Pub Date:
- September 1996