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Enhancing the exploration of our galaxy and beyond with the small but effective Starbug robots.

The Starbug. A tiny, armless, legless robot.

Leaders in astronomical instrumentation and research, Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO) is a recognised world leader in innovative astronomical instrumentation, software and research.

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Pushing the boundaries of technology

AAO-Macquarie is engaging with major observatories around the world to deliver innovative new instruments based on technologies they are developing. One of these technologies TAIPAN, a multi-object fibre spectrograph for the UK Schmidt Telescope (UKST).

TAIPAN is a spectroscopic instrument that incorporates 150 optical fibres within individual Starbug robots that position across the 6 degree field-of-view of the UK Schmidt Telescope (UKST).

The Starbugs are made from a pair of concentric Piezoceramic Tubes that are actuated when a high-voltage waveform is applied. Staging of the waveform creates successive microsteps, on the order of 3-20 μm each.

In addition to the positioning system prototype for MANIFEST, the TAIPAN project includes a new spectrograph (an all-refractive 2-arm design that delivers a spectral resolution of R>2000 over the wavelength range 370-870 nm) and an upgrade to the UKST systems (telescope drive motors and encoders, hardware and software control systems, and dome drive and shutter control systems).

The TAIPAN instrument has two key aims. This first aim is to act as a proof-of-concept for the Starbugs positioning technology for use on the Giant Magellan Telescope. The second aim for TAIPAN is to deliver a capability to Australian astronomers to carry out a comprehensive spectroscopic galaxy survey of the Southern Hemisphere.

“Having the Asiga MAX X35 in-house allows for rapid turn-around on parts and the ability to print extremely fine resolution features.”

Ellie O’Brien, Mechanical Engineer, AAO

More details on the MAX X35 UV here >

More information on the AAO here >

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