Abstract

Design concepts for future large optical telescopes have highly segmented primary mirrors, with the out-of-plane degrees of freedom actively controlled. We estimate the contribution to errors in controlling the primary mirror that results from sensor noise and, in particular, compare mechanical measurements of relative segment motion with optical wave-front information. Data from the Keck telescopes are used to obtain realistic estimates of the achievable noise due to mechanical sensors. On the basis of these estimates, mechanical sensors will be more accurate than wave-front information for any of the telescope design concepts currently under consideration, and therefore supplemental wave-front sensors are not required for real-time figure control. Furthermore, control system errors due to sensor noise will not significantly degrade either seeing-limited or diffraction-limited observations.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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