DELTA TAU: POWER PMAC – Motion Control Innovation

Controlling the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope

The largest solar telescope in the world, with unprecedented abilities to view details of the sun, needed to have the most sophisticated control system available. The Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) project is expected to provide the sharpest views ever taken of the solar surface. Through the use of the ATST, scientists expect to learn how cosmic magnetic fields are generated and destroyed, and learn what role

the fields play in the organization of plasma structures and the impulsive releases of energy found everywhere in the universe. But more importantly, researchers are interested in the mechanisms responsible for solar variability that eventually affects the Earth.


The Telescope's optic support structure, which includes the mirror assemblies, is expected to weigh nearly 75 tons, the mount base nearly 90 tons, and the Coude rotator 160 tons. The 84-foot diameter enclosure will be thermally controlled, highly ventilated, and will be a co-rotating hybrid that has independent rotation when the telescope is positioned at zenith. The enclosure is where the controllers and much of the instrumentation will be located.

Control and Instrumentation Needs
Overall, the instrumentation would incorporate over one hundred motion actuators at the beginning—that number will grow as instruments are added to the system. While each individual actuator will have minimal impact on the ATST Coudé environment by itself, all of the motion control hardware taken together will be a dominant factor in the generation of heat and EMI inside the telescope enclosure. One critical area of consideration for motion control in the ATST was the expertise required to maintain multiple systems. If each area of control chose to use a different vendor for their motion controller, a tremendous burden would be placed on both the hardware and software maintenance personnel with respect to documentation, spare parts, periodic upgrades, maintenance of software code, and expertise in each of the systems.

Featured Product

maxon motor’s - Exoskeleton Joint Actuator

maxon motor's - Exoskeleton Joint Actuator

A brushless DC motor solution for use in hip and knee exoskeletons. This complete joint actuation unit consists of motor, gearhead, encoder and position controller. Fitting absolute encoder directly at the joint rotation provides designers increased positioning accuracy. The unit will deliver 54Nm of continuous torque and 120Nm on a 20% duty cycle. The system can be operated on supplies between 10 and 50V DC and the actuation speed is up to 22rpm.