Technology allows researchers the use of mirrors with light-gathering power 350,000 times that of the human eye

Goodrich Corporation has delivered the optical assemblies for the Southern Astrophysical
Research (SOAR) telescope to an 8,800-foot mountain in the Chilean Andes.
The effort is funded by a partnership between the U.S. National Optical
Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Nation of Brazil, Michigan State
University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The
telescope will provide astronomers with high quality imaging of
heavenly objects. It will also provide imaging spectroscopy — the mapping
of specific materials by detection of their chemical composition. The
telescope will be operated by the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory,
a division of NOAO.

Goodrich’s Danbury, Connecticut-based Optical and Space Systems division
was responsible for the design and fabrication of the telescope’s
Active Optical System, which consists of three mirror assemblies —
a 14-foot primary mirror and smaller secondary and tertiary mirrors. The
primary mirror assembly provides a light-gathering power 350,000 times
that of the human eye and has an “active” mirror surface for accurate
focusing. The secondary mirror system allows the telescope to align the
optics while compensating for the image distorting effects of heat and
gravity. The tertiary mirror system directs the images captured to any of
nine different scientific cameras and instruments and incorporates a
unique fast tip/tilt motion to stabilize images by correcting for
atmospheric turbulence jitter.

In addition to the mirrors and the associated drive electronics, Goodrich
also developed the software system that controls the actuators and drive
mechanism that allow astronomers to control the instrument.

Goodrich’s delivery of the system culminates four years of design and
optical fabrication efforts in Danbury. The primary mirror was ground and
polished using Goodrich’s computer controlled polisher. In addition,
several Goodrich engineers traveled to Chile to assist in installation
and initial operation of the telescope. Images captured from the
telescope will be provided to observers in the United States via an
internet video link.

Goodrich’s Optical and Space Systems division is an industry leader in
supplying active optics and telescope systems for both ground and space
based applications.

Goodrich Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is a leading global supplier
of systems and services to the aerospace and defense industry. If there’s
an aircraft in the sky – we’re on it. Goodrich technology is
involved in making aircraft fly … helping them land … and keeping them
safe. Serving a global customer base with significant worldwide
manufacturing and service facilities, Goodrich is one of the largest
“pure play” aerospace companies in the world. For more information visit

NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in
Astronomy (AURA) inc., under a cooperative agreement with the National
Science Foundation.

Gail K. Warner
Director Media Relations
Goodrich Corporation
Direct Line: (704) 423-7048

For more information on SOAR, see:

Images of SOAR can be found here:

and here: