Abstract

A new concept for push–pull active optics is presented, where the push-force is provided by means of individual airbag type actuators and a common force in the form of a vacuum is applied to the entire back of the mirror. The vacuum provides the pull-component of the system, in addition to gravity. Vacuum is controlled as a function of the zenithal angle, providing correction for the axial component of the mirror’s weight. In this way, the push actuators are only responsible for correcting mirror deformations, as well as for supporting the axial mirror weight at the zenith, allowing for a uniform, full dynamic-range behavior of the system along the telescope’s pointing range. This can result in the ability to perform corrections of up to a few microns for low-order aberrations. This mirror support concept was simulated using a finite element model and was tested experimentally at the 2.12 m San Pedro Mártir telescope. Advantages such as stress-free attachments, lighter weight, large actuator area, lower system complexity, and lower required mirror-cell stiffness could make this a method to consider for future large telescopes.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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