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March 22, 2023



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The mount for an immense ring


To locate an object in the sky, the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) moves on two axes: the azimuth (which is parallel to the horizon) and the elevation (altitude). In addition, the telescope has to move in a third direction to compensate for the earth's rotation.

In this edition of the bulletin we are going to focus on the elevation ring, the parts of which have now started arriving at the telescope.

After the primary mirror cell had been installed the lower structure of the telescope tube was assembled. Work has now begun to install the elevation wheels, shown in the photographs on this page, which will support the elevation ring "trunnions".

The motors, decoders and elevation hydrostatic bearings will be sited in the "trunnions", making the tube structure "float" on a pool of pressurised oil so that the telescope's moving parts move smoothly.

The GTC will use direct axis motors, which require very little maintenance and eliminate any inaccuracies that might be caused if intermediary mechanical components had to be used.

The decoders, which are the telescope's positioning system, are sensitive to movements of just hundredths of a micron (0.001 mm). Information from the decoders is used for determining the telescope's position so that the motors can be directed accurately.

Natalia R. Zelman

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